Iraqi PM declares Tal Afar town 'fully liberated' from IS

Iraq's prime minister is declaring the town of Tal Afar "fully liberated" from the Islamic State group after a nearly two-week operation.

Haider al-Abadi said Thursday that Iraqi troops "eliminated and smashed Daesh terrorists" in al-Ayadia district, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of Tal Afar, where the militants fled last week. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for IS.

Al-Abadi says with Tal Afar liberated, all of Nineveh province — the first area IS militants captured in a 2014 blitz — "is in the hands of our brave troops."

Iraqi officials often declare areas liberated before the fighting has completely ended, and the militants have been known to carry out surprise counterattacks.

IS stills control the northern town of Hawija as well as towns in western Iraq near Syria.