Iraqi forces take 70 percent of Tal Afar from IS group- AFP
26 August 2017: Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from 70 percent of Tal Afar, a stronghold of the militants in northwestern Iraq, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Saturday.
"Units of the Counter-Terrorism Service liberated the Citadel and Basatin districts and raised the Iraqi flag on top of the citadel," the offensive's commander General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement.
The news coincides with a visit to Iraq by two French ministers to affirm their country's support in the fight against the Islamic State group. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly, who arrived in the Iraqi capital on Friday evening, are scheduled to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
"God willing the remaining part will be liberated soon," Jaafari said at a news conference with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and French Defence Minister Florence Parly, in Baghdad.
Speaking on the plane to Baghdad, Le Drian said Iraq faced the dual challenge of "a war that is coming to an end and the beginning of the stabilisation and reconstruction of the country".
The ministers will also meet Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani in Arbil, where they are to echo calls by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the postponement of next month's independence referendum.
France is a key member of a coalition backing Iraqi forces in their campaign to retake vast tracts of Iraq that the jihadists grabbed in a 2014 offensive.
The offensive on Tal Afar, which lies on the supply route between Syria and the former Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, started on Aug. 20.