MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi on Saturday said they had captured all the areas west of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS).
The Iranian-backed forces revealed they had liberated every area except the town of Tal Afar.
“Hashd forces declare the liberation of all areas west of Mosul except Tal Afar,” the militia wrote on social media.
The group, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), have been battling IS militants inside Mosul to deprive the insurgents of their supply lines to remaining strongholds in Syria.
Although Tal Afar, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Mosul, remains in the hands of the extremist group, the PMF have almost completely surrounded the area.
The Shia militia’s top Iraqi military Commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis applauded the gains his forces had made in the battle against IS.
“The Hashd are awaiting orders from the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces [Haider al-Abadi] to storm the district of Tal Afar,” he said in a statement.
Mohandis mentioned the PMF had seized control of an area about two kilometers from Iraq’s western border with Syria, where US-backed Kurdish-led forces are battling IS.
“The Hashd have not entered yet,” he stated, without providing further details.
Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi had previously affirmed that all Iraqi forces should respect the territorial integrity of neighboring Syria and not cross the border.
Although most of the Shia militia is under Abadi’s command, some factions of the group have joined Damascus in its six-year-long civil war against rebel groups.