BAGHDAD — The Iraqi military says it has “fully liberated” Tal Afar’s town center from the Islamic State group.

Pockets of resistance remain but the announcement brings Iraqi forces a step closer to taking full control of one of the extremists’ last strongholds in Iraq.

Sunday’s statement says troops have captured all of the town’s neighborhoods but are heading to al-Ayadia district, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of Tal Afar, to pursue a group of militants who fled.

Last Sunday, U.S.-backed Iraqi troops launched a multi-pronged operation to retake Tal Afar, a month after declaring Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fully liberated. Tal Afar is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Syria’s border.

Militants still control the northern town of Hawija as well as Qaim, Rawa and Ana, in western Iraq near the Syrian border.

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