BAGHDAD — An Iraqi military spokesman says Islamic State militants are putting up tough resistance in a small area outside the newly liberate town of Tal Afar.

The spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig. Gen Yahya Rasool, says the military launched a series of heavy airstrikes and artillery since early morning Tuesday on the militants’ positions in al-Ayadia district, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of Tal Afar.

In a separate statement, the military says the troops have entered the district, without giving details.

Last week, 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. The 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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