Militants have seized most of a key Shiite majority town in northern Iraq, a government official said today, in fighting that has killed dozens of civilians and combatants. Security forces and civilian fighters still hold parts of Tal Afar, in Nineveh province, along a strategic corridor to Syria, according to deputy provincial council chief Nuriddin Qabalan.
Qabalan said militants controlled most of Tal Afar and the surrounding area, adding there were pockets of resistance, and that soldiers, policemen and residents held on to parts of the airport. Fifty civilians were killed in the violence, along with
dozens of militants and members of the security forces, he said.
Mohammed al-Bayati, a Tal Afar native who heads the security committee on Nineveh provincial council, said between 500 and 700 militants were involved in the assault.
Militants in the past week took control of the vast majority of Nineveh province as part of a swift offensive that saw them seize provincial capital Mosul as well as parts of three other provinces.