An Iraqi aerial offensive on the western city of Tal Afar, which remains under the control of the Islamic State militia, is currently underway, a military official said Tuesday.
Spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Yehia Rasool, confirmed the start of aerial strikes on the city, located some 65 kilometres west of the recently liberated city of Mosul. A planned ground offensive on Tel Afar had not begun, he added.
"The Joint Operations Command has developed the plan to liberate Tal Afar and the military units are getting ready," Rasool said.
Defence Ministry spokesman Mohamed al-Khodari told Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath TV that Iraqi forces will start a ground offensive after the airstrikes are over.
Ground troops were sent to the outskirts of Tel Afar ahead of the launch of the offensive, the Al-Sabah daily newspaper reported.
Air forces have been "targeting Islamic State facilities, arms depots and booby-trapped buildings based on intelligence information for some time now in order to decrease Daesh's capabilities," Rasool said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
"We are waiting for the orders by the commander-in-chief to begin," he added.
In July, Iraqi Prime Minister and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces Haider al-Abadi officially announced victory over Islamic State in Mosul.
The jihadist group seized Tel Afar when it took control of vast areas in northern and western Iraq in mid-2014.
The al-Qaeda splinter group still controls territory in Iraq, including areas south and west of Mosul.
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