Shi'ite fighters fire a rocket towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Reuters: Iraq readies force to storm flashpoint town near Mosul
Iraq is readying a special force tasked with storming Tal Afar, a bastion of Islamic State west of Mosul, in a way that would avoid revenge killings against the town's Sunni population.
Capturing or isolating Tal Afar from Mosul is a key part of the U.S-backed offensive to take back Islamic State's last major city stronghold in Iraq, by allowing the ground forces taking part in the campaign to complete Mosul's encirclement.
The army and police forces planning to storm Tal Afar will include Sunni and Shi'ite Turkmens, reflecting the main mix of the town's population, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based analyst who advises the government on Islamic State affairs.
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