U.S. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of United States Central Command, told reporters on Friday that Iraqi troops are ready to resume battling Islamic State militants after taking heavy losses during the nine-month long Mosul campaign. Troops currently surrounding Tal Afar expect a relatively easy fight compared to Mosul. However, there are concerns that sectarian violence might take place during the liberation, and it could encourage Turkey to send troops into Iraq to protect the Turkmen minority group. On Thursday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi admitted that abuses had occurred in Mosul.
At least 45 others were killed and seven were wounded in recent violence:
Militants killed seven members of one family during a home invasion in Mahla. They also kidnapped a police officer, but he was able to escape as Peshmerga forces encountered the kidnapping party. The policeman’s wife was slightly injured when the militants blew up a car at the home.
An airstrike killed two people and wounded another in Okashat.
In Baghdad, a bomb wounded four at a fish market.
Army forces killed 16 militants attempting to attack them near Tal Afar.
An airstrike near Qaim killed seven militants.
Five militants were killed and one was wounded in separate incidents in Jalawla.
In Bashir, five militants were killed.