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> You either surrender or die. Iraq's prime minister delivers his message to the Islamic State Group, announcing a new ground defensive supported by the US to take back Tal Afar. One of the last cities in the country to be held by the militants. A long-time stronghold of hardline Sunni insurgents, Tal Afar, 50 miles west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the Islamic State-held territory in June.
US and Iraqi military commanders say about 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city. Hours before prime minister Abadi's statement, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city, warning civilians to prepare for the latest assault. Many people have already fled the city over the past few weeks, leading aid groups to believe there won't be a huge exodus.
The United Nations estimates 10,000 to 40,000 people remain in Tal Afar and surrounding villages. Those who have left told Reuters that Islamic State militants looked worn out and demoralized.
's harly surprising after the group lost its grip over Mosul, the largest city to have fallen under IS' control, which Iraq's governments declared victory over in July after a nine month battled.
But a colonel told Reuters it won't be as hard as Mosul, as Tal Afar has wide streets, which will allow tanks easy passage. Only one part of the city is comparable to Mosul's old city, where Iraqi troops were forced to advance on foot through narrow streets. Moving house to house in a battle that resulted in the near-total destruction of the historic city.