UPDATED: Al-Hashd al-Shaabi recapture 2 western Mosul villages

Al-Hashd al-Shaabi troops in Tal Afar, west of Mosul.

Nineveh ( Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia recaptured on Sunday the villages of Riziya and Ta Ghazal near the strategic town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, from Islamic State militants.

“Al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces totally liberated the village of Riziya from ISIS control after intense battles with terrorists,” the militia’s media services said, adding that a number of militants were killed in process.

The military media service said also that al-Hashd al-Shaabi freed the village of Tal Ghazal, south of Tal Afar airport.

Earlier on Sunday, Al-Hashd said that they had repelled a suicide attack by ISIS which relied on suicide bombers and booby-trapped cars attack.

Tal Afar, 50 kilometers west of Mosul, is a vital target for Iraqi government and popular militia troops seeking to liberate Mosul from ISIS militants. The town, according to Iraqi security and militia commanders, had become isolated, depriving ISIS from supplies from Syria. Al-Hashd are reportedly preparing to storm the town’s center as part of a wide-scale operation to retake Mosul that launched in October.

Police forces said Saturday they were preparing to open a new front against ISIS in western Mosul, while Iraqi joint forces are still working to retake eastern districts towards the eastern shore of the Tigris River.

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