image FILE -- In this Sunday, April 30, 2017, file photo, provided by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), shows a fighter from the SDF carrying weapons as he looks toward the northern town of Tabqa, Syria. As the U.S.-led coalition ratchets up military operations in Syria ahead of a long awaited assault on the Islamic State group’s de facto capital Raqqa, the legacy of an Iraqi train and equip program _ though it has had some success _ is also marked by allegations of abuse and $1 billion dollars in unaccounted for weapons, highlighting the perils of empowering local forces in the fight against IS. (Syrian Democratic Forces, via AP, File)

Victory on the Islamic State in Iraq imminent

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced that victory in the Islamic State-controlled city of Tal Afar is imminent, while vowing to completely destroy the Islamic State in Iraq. The Iraqi leader said, “Tal Afar was completely liberated except the area of Ayadiya. And our troops are now battling Daesh there. Some militants are still hiding there, so many of them were killed yesterday the day before. God willing, we will announce the liberation of Tal Afar in full soon.” Tal Afar is the latest objective in the US-led war on the extreme Muslim group in Iraq following the recapture in July of the city of Mosul, where the Islamic State declared its self-proclaimed caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces backed by Shi’ite paramilitaries began fighting from house-to-house, in the one town left to take from the Islamic State before they can declare a complete victory, however the fighting in al-Ayadiya has been described by some Iraqi troops as “multiple times worse” than the battle for Mosul, which was flattened by nine months of grinding urban warfare.

The main challenge in the battles against the Islamic State is their barbaric use of civilians, which among others, includes the use of women and children as suicide bombers. About 150 Islamic State members and their families surrendered to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, northwest of Tal Afar, with most of them foreign fighters from Europe and elsewhere. Major Barwari of the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga said, “In fact these displaced people who turn themselves in, they are not displaced people they are all Dawaesh (Islamic State members) and they all wore explosive belts.” He revealed that those displaced were foreigners who joined the Islamic state including “Germans, Turks, Turkmen, there are Afghans among them and there are Chechens also among them,” he said.
The battle against the Islamic State in Iraq is all but over, with the focus shifting entirely to the war-torn country of Syria, where US-backed SDF forces are battling the extreme Muslim group.