(The Washington Times) Iraq still faces tough military battles and hard political choices in the wake of the surprisingly quick advance over the weekend to oust ISIS militants from the northern city of Tal Afar.
Brutal counterinsurgency battles lie ahead on both sides of the border with Syria, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi now faces a stepped-up schedule to establish stability and political reconciliation in the regions recaptured from ISIS, officials and analysts say.
On Wednesday, Iraqi military and counterterrorism forces pressed deeper into the heart of Tal Afar. The city lies less than 50 miles west of Mosul, which until last month was ISIS biggest urban 300-070 stronghold in Iraq.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces captured the city center in Tal Afar over the weekend, reaching a major milestone in the city’s liberation in little over a week after Baghdad kicked off the offensive.
The campaign stood in sharp contrast to the nine-month slog to fully 300-206 reclaim Mosul, where ISIS militants put up a fierce resistance and showed little hesitation in using civilians as shields to slow the Iraqi advance.
Mr. al-Abadi arrived in Tal Afar on Saturday to see firsthand the progress of the Iraqi and coalition offensive, in which 200 ISIS fighters were reported killed and 16 of the city’s 28 districts were returned to the control of government forces.