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Tal Afar wary and wedged between Iran, Turkey and PKK

The Turkmen-majority city of Tal Afar remains sparsely populated and wary of outsiders a year and a half after being taken from the Islamic State. Geopolitical considerations and the nearby presence of the PKK, the Syrian border, the desert and mountains mean that operations continue in the area despite apparent calm.
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TAL AFAR, Iraq — Along a strategic road linking Mosul to Syria and near Sinjar in northern Iraq, the predominantly Turkmen city of Tal Afar has seen relatively few of its inhabitants return over a year and a half after liberation from the Islamic State (IS).

The former Ottoman stronghold — with an estimated pre-war population of 300,000 and near both a vast desert and mountains containing IS tunnels upon which airstrikes continue to be conducted — has for years been a source of tension between Iran and Turkey.

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