ISIS 'Worn Out' in Iraq, Says General, as Baghdad Eyes Rapid Victory in Next Battle

The clocktower of the Church of Our Lady of the Hour (also known as the Latin Church) and the minarets of a mosque in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, are seen on July 30. Iraqi forces are preparing an offensive on ISIS-held Tal Afar, where the group has some 2,000 fighters. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty

The ranks of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in northern Iraq are "worn out and demoralized," according to an Iraqi general, as Baghdad sets its sights on the next jihadi haven after liberating the city of Mosul last month.

Major-General Najm al-Jabouri, speaking to Reuters in a video interview, said the battle for the city of Tal Afar would not be as protracted as the nine-month slog for Mosul, the militant group's grandest prize.

"I don't expect it will be a fierce battle, even though the enemy is surrounded," al-Jabouri said.

"The enemy is very worn out," he continued. "I know from the intelligence reports that their morale is low."

He said that as many as 2,000 ISIS fighters may remain in Tal Afar and that they and their families are severely demoralized. Al-Jabouri is confident that Iraqi forces will secure a decisive and quick victory.

"It's a large number, but the terrain is favorable" to Iraqi forces, he said. He was referring to the lack of narrow streets and urban warfare that Baghdad's forces had to contend with in Mosul.

While Mosul had a population of as many as 1 million civilians, Tal Afar will not be as precarious for Iraqi and coalition forces, with much of its civilian population already outside of the city. Human rights groups have criticized the conduct of militias linked to the Iraqi military, accusing them of ordering summary executions. They have also alleged that the U.S.-led coalition has carried out disproportionate airstrikes with a disregard for civilian well-being.

The Iraqi government has opened an investigation into the allegations. U.S.-led coalition officials say as many precautions to protect civilian life are taken as possible, but they admit civilian casualties are to be expected in conflict. It says ISIS has held hundreds of civilians as human shields.

In Syria, the Kurdish-Arab alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces is closing in on capturing the southern neighborhoods of the eastern city of Raqqa. The SDF ground forces and the air forces of the U.S.-led coalition are besieging ISIS's de facto capital.

Despite losing half of the city, ISIS is still putting up fierce resistance, slowing the offensive with sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps.

But the jihadi group is losing significant tracts of land to campaigns in Iraq and Syria waged by the SDF, Iraqi forces and Syrian regime troops supported by Iranian-backed militias and Russian airpower, as well as Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.