Days after seizing an air base south of the Iraqi city of Tal Afar, Iranian backed Shia militia are moving to encircle the city in an attempt to finish off the job.
If successful, the offensive would choke off a main supply route to Mosul, ISIL’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
Tal Afar remains a strategically vital link in the chain of the group’s self-declared caliphate.
Cutting off the western road to the city would seal off Mosul, which is already surrounded to the north, south and east by Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
But the offensive on Tal Afar, which lies close to the Turkish Syrian border, could draw in Turkey, which fears Iranian backed groups taking over the town.
Elsewhere in the north of Iraq, there were desperate scenes in parts of Mosul, newly liberated from ISIL control, as locals scrambled for food sent by the Iraqi government.
The lack of organisation and resultant chaos is thought to have left many residents without provisions.