A fighter of the Hashed Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) walks through the dust carrying a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher, during the advance through the town of Tal Afar. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraqi forces were Sunday on the verge of fully recapturing the city of Tal Afar after driving Islamic State group jihadists from the centre of one of their last urban strongholds in the country.Iraqi forces now hold "94 percent of the city, 27 out of 29" districts including the centre and citadel, according to the Joint Operations Command (JOC) which coordinates the anti-IS operation in Iraq.On Saturday, units also battled IS around Al-Ayadieh, 15 kilometres (10 miles) north of Tal Afar and strategically located on the road between the city and the Syrian border, Yarallah said.Tal Afar sits on a strategic route between IS-controlled territories in Syria and Mosul, 70 kilometres (40 miles) further east.Progress in Tal Afar has been far more rapid than in Mosul, which fell to Iraqi forces only after a gruelling nine-month battle.Most of the city's 200,000-strong population fled after IS seized it.Iraq announced the "liberation" of Tikrit, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Baghdad, in early 2015 .
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