The targeted area of Tal Afar is about 3,206 square km, which consists of the town of Tal Afar itself and two districts of Ayadhiyah and Mahalabiyah, in addition to about 47 villages scattered in the area, according to information obtained from the official Iraqiya television.
IS in June 2014 overran Tal Afar, a Shiite enclave in the predominantly Sunni province of Nineveh, on the road between Mosul and Syria.
Iraqi warplanes have bombarded ISIS positions in the city - approximately 300 miles north of Baghdad - to prepare for ground operations, targeting weapon depots and command centres. Before the Prime Ministers speech, leaflets with the words "The battle is imminent and the victory is coming, God willing" were dropped in Tal Afar by Iraqi air force.
But parts of Iraq and Syria remain under IS control, including Tal Afar.
The Tal Afar counter-offensive is expected to be one of the bloodiest as the 1,000-odd estimated Isis fighters have nowhere to flee with the city being encircled by Kurdish and Iraqi forces.
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The coalition statement added that "following their historic victory in Mosul, the [Iraqi security forces] have proven themselves a capable, formidable, and increasingly professional force, and they are well prepared to deliver another defeat to ISIS in Tall Afar".
"Their faces looked desperate and broken".
Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilisation Forces] commanders said fighters had taken key hills surrounding the IS bastion, while others advanced into the town from the south.
The Shi'ite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), some of whom are trained and armed by Iran, confirmed they are also taking part in the battle. The "operation to liberate Tal Afar is another important fight that must be won to ensure the country and its citizens are finally free of ISIS", the head of the anti-IS coalition Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said in a statement, using another acronym for IS. Grande says more than 30,000 people have already fled, but didn't say since when. The town and surrounding areas are inhabited by some 350,000 to 400,000 people, including 250,000 people in Tal Afar itself.
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