Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Baghdad has assured Ankara that paramilitary forces will have a limited role in the liberation of Tal Afar town, Islamic State’s last holdout in Nineveh province.
London-based the New Arab quoted Iraqi political sources saying that Baghdad had assured Turkish ambassador to Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz, that Popular Mobilization Forces will “stop at the town’s walls” and would not proceed to the center which will only be invaded by government troops.
It also quoted a military source saying that the United States had officially informed Baghdad that American warplanes would provide air cover for government troops exclusively, which means that aerial backing for mobilization forces will be the job of Iraqi fighter jets.
The Iraqi government had marked Tal Afar, which IS held since 2014, as the next target of military operations against the group. Government troops recaptured Mosul, the militants’ former capital, early July.
Conflicting statements have been frequent regarding the participation of the Shia-led, government-recognized mobilization forces in the liberation of Tal Afar, a town of a mixed Shia Arab and Sunni Turkmen population. Sunni Turkey has pressed Baghdad to exclude the PMFs from the anticipated campaign fearing that the militias would commit genocides against residents from opposing sects.
Mobilization forces have faced occasional accusations by foreign human rights groups of violating human rights of residents at areas recaptured from IS.