Zee Media Bureau
Baghdad: Sunni militants on Monday captured Tal Afar town and its airport after two days of heavy clashes, said local official and witnesses on the condition of anonymity.
As per the sources, clashes between Iraqi Army and ISIS militants had left eight insurgents dead in the city of Tal Afar, the northern Iraqi town, yesterday.
"The town of Tal Afar and the airport...Are completely under the control of the militants," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses said security forces had departed the town, and confirmed that militants were in control.
The town, which is located along a strategic corridor to Syria, had previously been the largest in the northern province of Nineveh not to fall to militants.
Meanwhile, talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iraq`s PM Nuri al-Maliki have begun in Baghdad. Kerry has arrived in Baghdad to discuss the US measures underway to assist the besieged nation as it faces a blitz of ISIS takeovers.
Evn though there have been calls for PM Maliki`s resignation in US Senate, Kerry made it clear that the US was not "picking and choosing" Iraq`s leaders. However he is supposed to urge Maliki to form a new government that will be inclusive and represent all of the people of Iraq, especially Sunnis and Kurds who have felt marginalised under the Shiite-led government.
"The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq," Kerry told reporters in Cairo yesterday.
A major militant offensive, spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but involving a raft of other Sunni groups as well, began in Nineveh`s capital Mosul on June 9.
The militants took Mosul the following day, swept through Nineveh and took major parts of four more provinces as well.
(With AFP inputs)