Iraqi forces engaged in heavy clashes Monday near Tal Afar with the last pocket of ISIS militants in the northern province of Nineveh.
An Agence France Presse journalist saw fierce clashes pitting Iraqi government forces and allied militia against ISIS militants in the town of Al-Ayadieh 15 kilometers north of Tal Afar.
Iraqi troops, police and special forces took control of all districts inside Tal Afar on Sunday, a week after launching their latest offensive against an ISIS stronghold.
Clearing operations were continuing and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was expected to soon arrive in the city to announce its “liberation” from ISIS.
Some of those inside Tal Afar were believed to have fled to Al-Ayadieh, located on the road between the city and the Syrian border, where they appeared to be making a desperate last stand.
The militants launched three suicide car bomb attacks at Iraqi forces on Monday morning and smoke could be seen rising above the town from air strikes carried out in support of ground troops.
In Iraq, the terrorist organization now only controls the city of Hawija, about 300 kilometers north of Baghdad, and desert areas along the border with Syria.
Also Monday, a car bomb ripped through a busy market area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 12 people, Iraqi officials said.
The explosives-laden car went off at the wholesale Jamila market in Sadr City, a police officer said. The explosion also wounded 28 other people, he added, saying the death toll was expected to rise further.
A medical official confirmed the casualty figures.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the attack had all the hallmarks of ISIS.