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The Interview

Battle for Tal Afar a 'decisive' moment against IS group

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Baghdad, the spokesman for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group, Colonel Ryan Dillon, said the fight for Tal Afar was a "decisive" battle in the war against the jihadists.

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"We did not anticipate such a quick and decisive takeover of Tal Afar city," Dillon said. "We certainly went into this planning for the worst."

While Dillon said it was ultimately up to the Iraqi government to declare victory in Tal Afar, he said the offense against the Islamic State (IS) group on the ground had been "very decisive".

"All elements of the Iraqi security forces worked together – a simultaneous attack on multiple fronts and, in nine days, nearly 1,000 square kilometres of ground had been taken [that was] once held by ISIS," he said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group.

The mainly Shiite Popular Mobilisation Forces as well as Sunni fighting groups have played an important role in the battle against the IS group, Dillon said, with the IS group remaining in control of "less than a handful" of areas in Hawija and in western Anbar province.

Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led international coalition, launched an assault on Tal Afar overnight on August 19-20.

The northern Iraqi city, which was estimated to have some 200,000 inhabitants before the arrival of the jihadists, is strategic as it serves as a passageway for funneling both arms and fighters into the group's self-proclaimed "caliphate".

Click on the video player above to watch the full FRANCE 24 interview.

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