Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi pro-government paramilitary forces said they totally cleared areas west of Mosul and along the borders with Syria from Islamic State militants except Tal Afar.
Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy chief of the Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), said in a press statement on Saturday that the force imposed full control over areas west of Mosul, crowning operations that launched in September with retaking 14.000 kilometers of territories and liberating 360 villages.
He said the victory puts IS fighters in Mosul in complete isolation.
“Our forces are awaiting directives from Prime Minister and Supreme Armed Forces Commander, Haider al-Abadi, to invade Tal afar,” Mohandes said, referring to the major IS bastion west of Mosul.
Last week, PMUs announced the total recapture of Baaj region near the borders with Syria, later announcing the retaking of several villages surrounding it. They took over neighboring Qairawan in May.
So far, Mohandes assured, PMUs have not entered Syrian territories, but reached a village two kilometers away from Syria two days earlier and hit some targets with artillery.
Operations by the Popular Mobilization Units have recently managed to impose control over villages along the borderline with Syria. Meanwhile, government troops have become closer to retaking Mosul, Islamic State’s previously-proclaimed capital, where a campaign has been running since October 2016 and recently cornered a few hundreds of militants in the western side of the city.
Islamic State militants have been holding the Tal Afar town since 2014. PMUs have been recapturing areas around the enclave, and isolated it from Mosul and Syria preparing for an invasion which the JOC has not yet decided whether it would assign to paramilitary or government troops.