BAGHDAD, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The paramilitary Hashd Shaabi said that the security forces launched on Sunday an operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq.
"Hashd Shaabi members and army soldiers started a joint operation to hunt down IS militants in mountainous area surrounding the town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul," the Hashd Shaabi said in a statement.
Teams of explosive experts are also clearing the area from landmines and other unexploded ordinance, the statement said.
In August last year, former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, declared the start of major offensive to retake control of Tal Afar and the nearby areas from IS militants.
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.
Late in 2017 the Iraqi security forces managed to regain control of IS strongholds across the country, but small groups and individuals of IS militants melted in urban areas or regrouped in deserts and rugged areas in many areas in Iraq looking for safe havens.
The extremist militants are still capable of carrying out attacks from time to time against the security forces and civilians despite operations from time to time to hunt them down.