Baghdad: Militant groups took control of city of Tal Afar in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, as families begun leaving their homes to safer areas outside the city, an official said Monday.

Iraqi Unrest
Militant groups took control of city of Tal Afar in Iraq's northern province on Monday. Pic/AFP

Insurgent groups, including militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an Al Qaeda offshoot, captured several neighbourhoods in the city after fierce clashes with Iraqi security forces, the official told Xinhua.

The militant groups have been fighting for several days to enter the ethnically and sectarian mixed city from three directions, but they were faced by the security forces with hundreds of local tribal fighters.

The defenders of the city withdrew from some neighbourhoods because of shortage of ammunition and weapons, the official said.

Mohammed Abdul Qader, head of the city council said that dozens of families have left their homes by the battles in the streets and the mortar shelling.

Most of the displaced families have resorted to the city of Sinjar, some 60 km west of Tal Afar.

The main hospital is suffering acute shortage in medicine and other equipments, Qader added.

The Sunni-majority province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has long been a stronghold for insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda militants, since the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Large parts of the province are now in the hands of militant groups since last week after bloody clashes with Iraqi security forces.

The militant groups later seized several territories after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.