Militants capture northern Iraqi town Tal Afar
says news that came out 3 hours ago
BAGHDAD: Militants captured the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar early on Monday, its mayor and residents said, the latest blow to the nation's Shia-led government a week after it lost a vast swath of territory in the country's north.
The town, with a population of some 200,000 people, mostly ethnic Shia and Sunni Turkomen, was taken just before dawn, Mayor Abdulal Abdoul told The Associated Press.
The ethnic mix of Tal Afar, 420 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, raises the grim specter of large-scale atrocities by Sunni militants of the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, who already claim to have killed hundreds of Shias in areas they captured last week.
A Tal Afar resident reached by phone confirmed the town's fall and said militants in pick-up trucks mounted with machine-guns and flying black jihadi banners were roaming the streets as gunfire rang out.
The local security force left the town before dawn, said Hadeer al-Abadi, who spoke to the AP as he prepared to head out of town with his family.
Local tribesmen who continued to fight later surrendered to the militants, he said. “Residents are gripped by fear and most of them have already left the town to areas held by Kurdish security forces,” said al-Abadi.
Tal Afar is organized into eighteen neighborhoods or districts. They are: Sa'ad, Qadisiyah, Todd A-O, Sarai, Mohalemeen, Madlomin, Uruba, Wahada, Nida, A'a lot, Hassan Qoi, Mothana, Khadra, Jazeera, Taliha, Kifah, Malain and Qalah. Each neighborhood is able to maintain its identity due to the tribal nature of the city.