BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces battling Islamic State (IS) on Sunday pushed further to free the remaining IS-held areas in north of the liberated city of Tal Afar in northern Iraq, the Iraqi military said.
The army's 16th Infantry Division advance in north of the fully liberated city of Tal Afar, and managed to recapture 14 villages, al-Kasak military base, gas factory and gypsum factory in east of the IS-held town of Ayadhiyah, 11 km north of Tal Afar, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.
The troops arrived in an area located on the fringe of Ayadhiyah, the statement said.
Meanwhile, the army's 15th Infantry Division advanced into an area located in west of Ayadhiyah and liberated four villages, as the troops are still pushing to approach the edge of the town, Yarallah said in a separate statement.
Earlier in the day, Yarallah declared the full liberation of the city of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, after an eight-day offensive designed to drive out IS militants from the city and its surrounding areas.
Yarallah added that the troops and armored vehicles have pushed northward to the remaining IS-held town of Ayadhiyah and surrounding villages.
The Tal Afar area is about 3,206 square km, which consists of the city of Tal Afar and three towns: Zummar, which is under control of the Kurdish security forces, Mahalabiyah, which was freed from IS militants during past few days, and Ayadhiyah, which is still under IS control.
The whole Tal Afar area consists of 47 villages scattered around the city and its three towns.
The majority of the population in the Tal Afar area are Sunni and Shiite Turkomans, in addition to the Kurds and other minorities.
On Aug. 20, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, declared the start of an operation to dislodge IS militants from Tal Afar city and nearby areas, the last IS redoubt in the province of Nineveh.
The United Nation's International Organization for Migration estimated that the population in Tal Afar and surrounding areas is some 10,000 to 40,000 people.
Before the liberation, the army's Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri, commander of Nineveh's Operations Command, told reporters that he estimated there were between 1,500 and 2,000 IS militants left in Tal Afar.