Just days after the Iraqi government claimed to have “liberated” the northwestern city of Tal Afar, military officials are reporting that the fighting in the area was like “opening the gates of hell,” and that it is many-fold more intense than fighting in Mosul’s Old City.
Tal Afar itself was captured, of course, but the ISIS forces were largely untouched, instead fleeing to the neighboring town of al-Ayadiya, a very small town which now has hundreds of hardened ISIS fighters throughout, forming a major defensive force.
Iraq has tried to increase airstrikes, and called in reinforcements from the US, from police, even from Shi’ite militias, but so far have made little progress, with ISIS snipers in pretty much all the tall buildings in town, and officials saying they believe ISIS controls “almost every single house.”
Tal Afar was surprisingly quick, by comparison, as an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there left almost immediately, and very little real combat was reported. So many ISIS made a beeline for al-Ayadiya, however, that officials say there were abandoned ISIS motorcycles all along the road on the town’s outskirts, as they advanced in in earnest, with no plans of leaving.
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