Iraqi forces have “fully liberated” the city of Tal Afar from Islamic State, the country’s prime minister has said.

Haider al Abadi said the militant group had been “eliminated and smashed” in the area, after forces took the town of al Ayadiya – about 10 miles north of the city.

The victory means that all of Nineveh province is under Iraqi control, he added.

Tal Afar sits on a main road between Islamic State’s strongholds in eastern Syria and northern cities in Iraq and is considered strategically important.

Up to 2,000 militants were believed to be defending Tal Afar against around 50,000 government troops last week. It is unclear how many fell back to al Ayadiya.

Pictures have emerged of women and children – the families of IS militants – who have handed themselves over to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the area.

Iraqi troops and coalition planes – which took part in the battle for Tal Afar – are now gearing up to retake Hawija, the last major city in northern Iraq held by IS.

Mr Abadi said in a statement: “To Daesh (IS) criminals we say: Wherever you are, we will come to liberate, and you have to choose only death or surrender.”

British forces last took part in the battle for Tal Afar on 17 August, according to the Ministry of Defence, when RAF Tornados and Typhoons fired missiles that destroyed sniper, machine gun and mortar teams.

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