Iraqi troops, backed by volunteer citizens, have killed at least 300 members of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group in fierce fighting in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, security sources say.
Iraqi forces and volunteer fighters have inflicted heavy losses on ISIL terrorists in Tal Afar and forced them to retreat, a senior army officer said on condition of anonymity on Monday.
Dismissing reports claiming the fall of Tal Afar to ISIL terrorists, Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Saad Maan underscored that Iraqi troops have control of the city.
Tal Afar, in Nineveh province, lies between Mosul and the border with Syria. Tal Afar has a population of 80,000 as of 2007 and is the second most populous city in Nineveh province.
Militants have taken control of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers northwest of the capital and have vowed to continue their raid toward Baghdad, but their advance has been slowed down as Iraqi military forces and volunteer fighters have begun engaging them on several fronts, in some cases even pushing the militants out of the areas they had earlier overrun.
Premier al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.