Fears for Civilians as Tal Afar Operation Moves Forward; 12 Killed in Iraq

Now that ground operations have begun, the United Nations re-iterated earlier warnings concerning a flood of refugees from the Tal Afar region and called on warring parties to protect civilians in the battle zone. Tens of thousands have already made their escape; however, on Saturday, leaflets were dropped over the city, advising remaining residents of the impending maneuvers. Also, the Kurdish Regional Government believes there may be several hundred Yazidi captives held in Tal Afar; three Yazidi children were liberated on Sunday.

Authorities reported capturing 12 villages near Tal Afar on the first day of the operation. Colonel Kareem al-Lami said that many of the 2,000 militants left in the city were foreign fighters and would likely fight to the death. Airstrikes are also targeting what may be militants fleeing the city.

As expected, Kurdish officials are conferring with the government in Baghdad to postpone an upcoming independence referendum; however, they expect some concessions in return. Among the conditions they may be discussing are owed monies and authority over disputed regions. Although Kurdish independence has long been a dream, there are fears of bloodshed, and practical aspects may win out anyway. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi denied claims that financial aid was already promised.

Iraq’s Ambassador to Jordan announced that the Trebil crossing will soon re-open to traffic between the two countries. Militant activity had forced the closure. Recently, Saudi Arabia announced a similar plan for their border crossing with Iraq. 

At least 12 others were killed and five were wounded in recent violence:

A bomb in Hamamiyat al-Taji killed one person and wounded four more.

A suicide bomber in Amin killed a police conscript and wounded another at a checkpoint.

Five militants were killed trying to sneak into al-Baghdadi.

An airstrike killed three militants in Abu al-Nile.

In Tal Afar, a suicide bomber was killed.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.