Iraq captures two districts from ISIL

Iraq captures two districts from ISIL

Iraq captures two districts from ISIL Iraqi forces on Aug. 22 recaptured from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group the first two districts of jihadist bastion Tal Afar.  Iraqi troops reached the first urban areas on the third day of a multi-pronged operation, said a military commander.

U.S.-trained elite forces, known as the Counter Terrorism Service, entered the al-Kifah neighborhood on the southwest edge of town, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who commands the operation, said in a statement. He didn't give more details.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil, of the Iraqi special forces, told The Associated Press that the advancing troops didn't face tough resistance from ISIL fighters, though they did fire rockets, sent suicide car bombers and used roadside bombs.

Fadhil expected the fighting to get even heavier as they push into the town's center which is about 4.5 kilometers away. 

Army, police and units of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition later took “full control” of Al-Kifah and Al-Nur districts in Tal Afar, the Hashed said.

The U.S.-backed operation was launched Aug. 20, a month after Iraq declared victory over ISIL in Mosul, the country's second largest city. Tal Afar, about 150 kilometers east of the Syrian border, is one of the last pockets of ISIL-held territory in Iraq.

Along with the special forces, Iraq's regular army, militarized Federal Police and Shiite-dominated paramilitary forces are taking part in the assault. Iraq's state-run TV aired live footage showing pillars of smoke rising in the distance as military vehicles traveled through wide, arid areas.