Mobilization forces dig trenches along Syrian borders following successful advances

Al-Hashd al-Sha’bi during operations in Tal Afar.

Baaj (  Iraqi paramilitary forces fighting the Islamic State alongside the government have begun digging trenches along the borders with Syria, crowning a successful push through villages near that area.

Popular Mobilization Units said on their website Tuesday they had begun entrenching along a line extending from Um Greis village, west of Sinjar region, to villages adjacent to the borderline. The step came one day after the force reached the borderline, taking over dozens of villages on their way.

The statement added that a second phase of operations launched to take over remaining villages north of Baaj, a major Islamic State holdout.

Last week, al-Hashd al-Shaabi troops resumed the second phase of operations, launched earlier this month, to liberate the remaining villages in the vicinity of  Baaj, after the troops announced full liberation of Qairawan.

Baaj region, west of Nineveh (google maps)

Many villages in Qairawan region, a main Islamic State bastion which links between Tal Afar town and the Syrian borders, have been freed since the troops launched an offensive on May 12 to free the region.

The campaign in Baaj runs simultaneously with government troops operations in Mosul, Islamic State’s biggest stronghold in Iraq. As battles in Mosul approach victory, according to Iraqi generals, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said protecting the borders with Syria became a high priority.

Some senior PMU leaders had confirmed coordination with Syrian forces regarding security at the border area.

PMUs, an alliance of more than 60 mostly Shia militias, are recognized by the government as a national force under the Prime Minister’s command.


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