Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State militants in Tal Afar and the entire province of Nineveh on Thursday.

Tal Afar became the next target of the US-backed war against IS following the recapture of Mosul, where it had declared its “caliphate” over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province.

Tal Afar was the last major population centre in northern Iraq still under IS control and its loss deprives the group of what was once a key supply hub between its territory in Syria and Iraq.

“Tal Afar has been liberated,” Abadi said in a statement. “We say to the Islamic State fighters: wherever you are, we are coming for you and you have no choice but to surrender or die.”

Iraqi forces had been waiting to clear the small town of al-‘Ayadiya, 11 km (7 miles) northwest of Tal Afar, before declaring complete victory in the offensive. Islamic State militants had retreated to the town.

(Lead photo courtesy of DVIDS).

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