Iraq’s armed forces announced that they’ve captured two areas on the edge of the town of Tal Afar. Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, the commander of the Iraqi troops, said that Iraqi Special Forces drove the Islamic State militants from one area on the southwestern edge of town and police and paramilitary units from another in the northwest.

In further developments, the Iraqi forces are moving to encircle the city on Iraq’s northwest border near Syria. Iraqi forces captured three more neighborhoods – al-Nour and al-Mo’allameen in the east and al-Wahda in the west.

The U.S.-led coalition is supporting the move providing airstrikes for the Iraqi troops, and there are reports of U.S. and other special forces are operating near the front lines.

British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the coalition’s deputy commander, said Iraqi forces are off to a “really positive start” and are “closing the noose” around the militants.

“The key is that they’ve broken into the city,” he told Pentagon reporters via videoconference from Baghdad.

The Islamic State which swept into Iraq and Syria has been taking a beating in recent months trying to hold onto territory it deemed their “caliphate” in both countries. But despite setbacks in Mosul and elsewhere, they still have a reported 2000 fighters in Tal Afar and 2500 in the Syrian town of Raqqa where the fighting is still raging.

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