IS seize civilian vehicles in Tal Afar to build fortifications

Islamic State militants have forcibly confiscated tens of civilian-owned vehicles to build fortifications in the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, a local source said Tuesday.

The source told Alsumaria News that the cars blocked the streets of the town, forming walls against possible offensives.

Islamic State have been holding Tal Afar since 2014, with the area becoming one of its most significant bastions in Nineveh province.

So far, offensives by the pro-government Popular Mobilization have isolated the town from the Syrian borders and from Mosul, and recaptured a main military base there.

Troops are currently besieging IS militants in central Mosulís Old City, where they group declared its rule in Iraq in 2014.

The issue of Tal Afarís invasion has been controversial since Iraqi government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive in October to retake areas occupied by the Islamic State in Nineveh, most notably the city of Mosul.

The Shia-led Popular Mobilization has occasionally said its fighters were awaiting orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to invade the mostly-Sunni Turkmen town. But regional Sunni powers, especially Turkey, had opposed the notion fearing sectarian consequences, obliging Abadiís government to reassure that only the official forces would take up the mission.