21 August, 2017
The town and its nearby oil refinery, Iraq's largest, were recaptured in late 2015 with air support from a US-led coalition and a host of tribal groups and militias.
It will be the first test of Iraq's military, particularly the elite US -trained Counterterrorism Service, after it took significant losses during the battle for Mosul. The city was captured in 2014 by IS forces.
Some parts, including small towns and mountain areas, remain under Islamic State control, especially along the border.
Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, is the last IS redoubt in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.
Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate all but collapsed last month when US -backed Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul after a brutal nine-month campaign.More news: Smokers more likely to quit when cigarette prices increase
Wednesday, Kurdish Peshmerga troops arrested 30 IS militants who officials said attempted to escape Tal Afar - which was once the home of 200,000 people - by traveling through Peshmerga-held territory. They are expected to put up a tough fight, even though intelligence from inside the city indicates they have been exhausted by months of combat, aerial bombardments, and by the lack of fresh supplies.
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".
Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said on Sunday that security forces, backed by members of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and fighters from pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), have reclaimed Abra al-Najjar, Abra Hanish, Greater Abra and Lesser Abra, Arabic-language Baghdad Today news website reported.
Tal Afar is a town located in around 43 miles west of Mosul which was the center of all activities of ISIS, according to reports.
The U.S. -led coalition said over the past days it had carried out dozens of air strikes on Tal Afar, targeting weapons depots and command centres, in preparation for the ground assault.