Thousands flee as Iraq bombs Isis-held town
BADOUSH, Iraq (AP):
Thousands of Iraqis have fled an Isis-held town west of Mosul as Iraqi and coalition warplanes step up strikes ahead of a ground offensive to drive out the militants.
Tal Afar and the surrounding area is one of the last pockets of Isis-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July in Mosul, the country's second-largest city.
The town, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, sits along a major road that was once a key ISIS supply route.
On Monday, hundreds of exhausted civilians were brought by Iraqi army trucks from the front line to a humanitarian collection point just west of Mosul.
Many described a harrowing journey of a day or more from Tal Afar, with no food or water.
The United Nations said some 49,000 people have fled the Tal Afar district since April, compounding a humanitarian crisis that has lingered despite the cessation of major fighting inside Mosul.
It said nearly a million people were displaced by the Mosul campaign.