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Iraqi forces a step closer to seizing IS stronghold

By AP Reporter

The centre of the town of Tal Afar has been "fully liberated" from Islamic State (IS), an Iraqi military statement said.

It brings Iraqi forces a step closer to taking full control of one of the extremists' last strongholds in Iraq.

The statement said troops have captured all of the town's neighbourhoods and are now heading to al-Ayadia district, about six miles north-west of Tal Afar, where militants have fled.

Last Sunday, US-backed Iraqi troops launched a multi-pronged operation to retake Tal Afar.

This was a month after declaring Mosul, which is Iraq's second largest city, as fully liberated.

It ended IS's three-year rule over the city and confines the extremists to shrinking pockets of the country.

It was from Mosul that IS declared its self-proclaimed caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The militants still control the northern town of Hawija as well as Qaim, Rawa and Ana, in western Iraq near the Syrian border.

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