Tel Afar control disputed as Iraq shuts down internet


June 26, 2014

Nenava

RADIO SILENCE: Ever since the Iraqi government shut down social media websites – and in some regions the internet entirely – two weeks ago following the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham’s (ISIS) seizure of Mosul and other parts of the northern Nineveh province, information coming from Iraq has been unreliable.

This picture, published Wednesday by an Islamic State of Iraq and Sham affiliated website, purportedly shows an empty Tal Afar airport and what appears to be a series of hastily abandoned military vehicles. The caption in Arabic reads, “A picture from breaking into the Tal Afar Airport.”

The airport and the nearby eponymous city are located just 25 kilometers to the west of Mosul on the strategic road from Mosul to Syria. It was not immediately clear who controls the airport, though ISIS claims to retain control of it.  

“Our security forces control over the south area of Tal Afar and we killed a number of ISIS terrorists,” the leader of Iraqi Defense Forces Mohammed Qureshi said on Tuesday, reported Iraqi pro-government news agency Iraqi Media Net.

ISIS supporters dispute the claim.

“Thousands of Turkman families are returning to Tal Afar following ISIS’s call for the displaced families to return,” claimed one ISIS-affiliated Twitter account Thursday. The city’s population of around 80,000 is largely Turkmen and Sunni.

Meanwhile on Monday, the same Mohammed Qureshi of the Iraqi military allegedly fled from Tal Afar with Kurdish officers to the city of Sinjar, which is controlled by Kurdish forces, reported Iraqi independent news Iraqi Press.

– June 26, 2014

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