BAGHDAD, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants on Saturday liberated most of the city of Tal Afar as they recaptured eight neighborhoods during the day, including the old citadel of Tal Afar in central the city, the Iraq military said.
The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces liberated the neighborhood of al-Qal'a and its old Tal Afar Citadel, which is a ruined Ottoman fortress, located in the center of the city and raised the Iraqi flags over some of the buildings, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
The CTS forces also freed the orchards area in southern Tal Afar, the statement said.
The army's 9th Armored Division and the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units recaptured al-Urouba al-Thaniyah neighborhood and nearby Bowari area and raised the Iraqi flag over the area, Yarallah said.
The soldiers and the paramilitary fighters also freed the neighborhoods of al-Salam and Hassan Kowi in central the city, Yarallah added.
In a separate statement, the troops freed eight villages and Sheikh Ibrahim mountain and the nearby Zambar mountain range in southeast of Tal Afar.
Earlier in the day, Yarallah said that the troops liberated three more neighborhoods from IS militants.
The latest advance of the security forces brought the number of neighborhoods liberated from IS group in Tal Afar to 24 neighborhoods out of 28, while the troops still have to liberate several neighborhoods in the northern part of Tal Afar and the town of Ayadhiyah, some 11 km north of Tal Afar and the surrounding villages.
On Aug. 20, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, declared the start of an operation to retake control of Tal Afar and nearby areas from IS militants.
Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, is the last IS redoubt in the province of Nineveh.
The United Nation's International Organization for Migration estimates that some 10,000 to 40,000 people are still living in Tal Afar and surrounding areas.
Earlier, the army's Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri, commander of Nineveh's Operations Command, told reporters that he estimated there were between 1,500 and 2,000 IS militants left in Tal Afar.