Iraqi Forces Attack Tal Afar, Make Gains

Iraqi government forces drive down a road leading to Tal Afar on June 9, 2017 during ongoing battles to retake the city from ISIS militants. AFP
Iraqi government forces drive down a road leading to Tal Afar on June 9, 2017 during ongoing battles to retake the city from ISIS militants. AFP
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Iraqi Forces Attack Tal Afar, Make Gains

Iraqi government forces drive down a road leading to Tal Afar on June 9, 2017 during ongoing battles to retake the city from ISIS militants. AFP
Iraqi government forces drive down a road leading to Tal Afar on June 9, 2017 during ongoing battles to retake the city from ISIS militants. AFP

After Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced early Sunday the start of a battle to retake Tal Afar, Iraqi forces, supported by the US-led coalition and the Iraqi airforce, managed to complete the first phase by liberating large areas in the outskirts of the city.

Iraqi forces exceeding 40,000 soldiers, have advanced in the early morning from all directions towards Tal Afar, a key northern Iraqi bastion of ISIS and one of its last remaining strongholds in the region.

The Iraqi army’s 15th and 16th divisions advanced from the north while the federal police and the popular and tribal groups advanced from the west and the southwest. Counter-terrorism forces advanced from the southern side, and the 9th armored division advanced from the east and southeast.

For their part, US-led coalition aircraft and the Iraqi airforce provided air cover for the ground forces.

Commander of the second regiment in “Brigade 92” of the 15th division in the Iraqi army Lieutenant Colonel Ribwar Aziz told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Iraqi army and other security forces participating in the Tal Afar operation successfully completed the first phase of the operation and were able to liberate more than six villages.”

Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who commands the operation, stated that the forces had recaptured a series of villages east, southwest and northwest of town.

Iraqi forces have already made significant gains on the first day of the operations, retaking the villages of Ibtisha, al-Alam, Khafaja, Halabya al-Ulya, and Marzef east of Tal Afar.

They have also liberated Abra al-Najjar, Abra Hanash, al-Abara al-Kabera, and al-Abara al-Saghera to the west, Yar Allah said.

It is hard to count the number of civilians in the city since, like other ISIS-controlled areas, people are banned from contacting others outside.
The Coalition estimates that approximately 10,000-50,000 civilians remain in and around Tal Afar, and the UN said more than 30,000 people had already left Tal Afar by early Saturday.

“Conditions are very tough in the city,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lisa Grande. “Food and water are running out, and people lack the basic necessities to survive.”

“We are deeply worried about the extreme risks that families are facing. Everything has to be done by the parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties and ensure people have the assistance they are entitled to under international humanitarian law.”

Tal Afar is located 70 kilometers west of Mosul, where US-backed government forces ended extremists’ rule in July after a months-long battle.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.