Iraq PM Announces Invasion of Tal Afar, Sparking New Refugee Exodus

Thousands Flee Ahead of Invasion of Key Turkmen City

Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi has announced the imminent invasion of the Turkmen city of Tal Afar, with an eye toward retaking the northwestern area from ISIS. Given the sort of destruction and chaos such invasions have caused elsewhere, it’s unsurprising what happened next.

The civilians inside the city started fleeing en masse, hoping to get out before the invasion starts and leave them, like so many populations elsewhere in the country, trapped for the duration of a major battle in an open combat area.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq has announced over 30,000 civilians have fled, mostly on foot, and facing intense summer heat. It didn’t take long for many to start suffering from dehydration, as they marched on toward safe areas.

As with other invasions, however, there’s been little organized effort to prepare to accept the refugees anywhere, and the civilians are finding themselves blocked by both Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces as they try to move eastward, being told the refugee camps there are already at capacity. Where they’re going to end up is unclear, but with mid-day temperatures reaching 120°F, they won’t have very long to figure that out.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of