A Belgian special forces soldier in Tal Afar. Balint Szlanko / AP

The Iraqi government announced the liberation of Tal Afar Thursday in what Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq is calling a "swift and decisive victory." Tal Afar is a city to the west of Mosul — Iraq's second-largest city which was liberated last month after a prolonged battle. The Tal Afar offensive began August 20.

Why it matters: Tal Afar produced some of ISIS's most senior commanders, per Reuters, and British army Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones told reporters last week that liberating Tal Afar would essentially put an end to ISIS in northern Iraq.

Other progress
  • Hezbollah has declared "mission accomplished" in Lebanon, after becoming the first battlefield enemy along with the Lebanese army to strike a peace deal with ISIS.
  • Syrian Democratic Forces have reclaimed about 60% of Raqqa, the "capital" of ISIS, per the Pentagon.
  • About 90% of Iraqi territory once held by ISIS has been reclaimed, per U.S. Central Command.

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