Nineveh – (IraqiNews.com) Al-Hashd al-Sha’bi militias said Friday they had recaptured one more village on its way to liberating the strategic town of Tal Afar, Nineveh, from Islamic State militants.
The militia’s media service said they took over the village of Khodeir southwest of Tal Afar. “Al-Hashd has engaged in ferocious fights with ISIS elements,” adding that the group uses civilians as human shields.
“Al-Hashd had also brought down an ISIS-run drone in Um Nekheila village, and also destroyed two booby-trapped vehicles.”
Earlier today, the militia announced the beginning of a fifth decisive phase of its advancement towards the town, beginning the operation with liberating the village of al-Aazal, west of Mosul.
The latest phase, which concluded on Wednesday, had seen the mostly-Shia militia consummating a siege on the city and liberating several villages on its outskirts after taking control of its vital military airport. Its commanders said the fifth phase would see the troops advancing further towards the center of Tal Afar.
A spokesperson for Asaeb Ahl al-Haq, a component of al-Hashed al-Sha’bi, said in a statement that the current stage of operations are specifically targeting the Tal Abta neighborhood. He said his troops had managed to take over the villages of Um Nekheila and Toffaha as operations proceeded.
Tal Afar has been a concern for Turkey which had said it feared that Shia paramilitary forces engaged in combat, most notably al-Hashed al-Shaabi, could carry out retaliatory measures against Sunni Turkmen residents of the town.
Turkey has demanded the government in Baghdad to ensure that the militias stop at the siege on Tal Afar airport.
The takeover of Tal Afar airport represents a major victory for the militias as it stands as a vital step towards the liberation of the whole town and cutting the last ISIS supply corridor to Syria.