Iraqi paramilitary forces take airbase outside northern city of Tal Afar
ISIS attacked eastern Mosul neighborhood of al Zahraa after losing it nearly a week ago
Iraqi paramilitary forces have recaptured a strategic airbase outside the northern city of Tal Afar, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces said.
Ahmed al Assadi acknowledged that militia forces have yet to extinguish some pockets of ISIS resistance inside the airbase, however, saying late Wednesday that mopping-up operations will continue for the next few hours.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command put out a similar statement.
The base will serve as a staging area for Iraqi Security Forces in their battle with ISIS west of Mosul, authorities said. Tal Afar is a predominantly Sunni city that used to be divided between Sunni and Shia Turkmens before ISIS captured it in 2014. It is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Mosul.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-most populous city, is ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq and the terror group is well entrenched there. The campaign to retake the city has raged on for a month, forcing nearly 59,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.
An ISIS attack on a Mosul neighborhood previously declared “liberated” from the militants killed at least two civilians and wounded at least seven more people, including children, Iraqi army officials told CNN on Wednesday.
The officials said at least four mortars landed in the eastern Mosul neighborhood of al Zahraa, which was declared under the full control of Iraqi security forces nearly a week ago.
Witnesses also told CNN there had been civilian deaths and injuries from the attacks.
Video of the aftermath broadcast by local Kurdish TV station Rudaw showed several of the injured, including children with bloody wounds. Up to a dozen children are being maimed every day as fighting pushes into the city, according to Save the Children.
“Many children have been through two years of ISIS and were then forced to flee through a war zone, and some told us they have seen people shot and hanged,” said Aram Shakaram, deputy country director for Save the Children in Iraq. “Imagine what effect that would have on a child.”