With the capture of Tal Afar, the ISIL now controls the entire Nineveh province, solidifying their grip on the Tigris valley north of Baghdad. The insurgents want to establish an Islamic caliphate in the area.
The city fell after heavy fighting between Iraqi security forces, aided by tribal elements, and the ISIL insurgents. The Iraqi Army division based at Tal Afar was the only unit in the north that did not disintegrate during the lightening advance of the insurgents in the first two days of conflict.
“The city was overrun by militants. Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi'ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east," a Tal Afar city official told Reuters on Sunday.
Meanwhile, there were reports of heavy fighting on Sunday between Iraqi security forces and ISIL in the city of Baquba, 37 miles northeast of Baghdad, and the provincial capital of Diyala. If the city were to fall, the insurgents will have three-pronged access to Baghdad: from Anbar to the west, Nineveh and Salahuddin to the north, and from Diyala to the northeast.
File photo: ISIL gunmen (townhall.com)