Iraqi forces prepare to retake Tal Afar from Daesh militants

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Tal Afar, about 80 kilometers from Mosul and 150 kilometers from the Syrian border, represents one of the last pockets of territory held in the country by the moslty Sunni IS fighters.

Two thirds of Iraqi legislators have recognized Hashd al-Sha'abi as an official force, he stressed.

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the top US commander in Iraq, told reporters that "the last days of Mosul looked like Iwo Jima to me", referring to a bloody World War II battle in the Pacific. "Iraqi infantry men advanced beside the bulldozers, shooting and throwing grenades at Daesh fighters popping up out of the rubble".

The ERD was one of many government security forces supported by the U.S. led coalition tasked with driving Islamic state out of Mosul.

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According to reports, in addition to Iraqi government troops and Shiite militia, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are also taking part in the battle in the north. He was ensuring United States military advisory teams are with the right local units to provide the best support, intelligence gathering, surveillance and advice.

Thousands of troops stand ready at the frontline, awaiting orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to start the offensive, Iraqi army Major-General Uthman al-Ghanimi said this week. Many are foreigners, he said.

Rasool said the various Iraqi forces have already largely encircled Tal Afar.

He further said that smaller number of militias such as Hasd Al-Shaabi and a larger number of members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party are set to participate in the liberation of Tal Afar together with the U.S. forces. "But for the Iraqi security force member or policeman or infantry man or special forces soldier who's attacking, it won't be easier".