Members of the Shiite Badr Organisation fighters ride in a military vehicle during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily/File Photo
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Iraq is readying a special force tasked with storming Tal Afar, a bastion of ISIS west of Mosul, in a way that would avoid revenge killings against the town's Sunni population.Capturing or isolating Tal Afar from Mosul is a key part of the U.S-backed offensive to take back ISIS' last major city stronghold in Iraq, by allowing the ground forces taking part in the campaign to complete Mosul's encirclement.Mosul is already ringed to the north, south and east by Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces. Iraq's U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service breached ISIS defenses in east Mosul at the end of October.ISIS fighters in Mosul are dug in among more than a million civilians as a tactic to hamper air strikes.
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