Iraqi forces backed by Shi’ite paramilitaries began fighting house-by-house in the one town left to take from Islamic State before they can declare complete victory over the group’s former stronghold of Tal Afar, military commanders said.

Hundreds of battle-hardened IS militants are defending al-Ayadiya, a small town outside Tal Afar which itself is about 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul, the former de facto IS capital in northern Iraq that was recaptured in July, army officers said.

”Our soldiers now are engaging in a street fight with the militant group in al-Ayadiya,” Lieutenant General Qasim Nazzal told state television, adding that fighters in groups of three were barricaded inside “every single house and building”.

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