Baaj (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants have started burning their archives at an area west of Mosul and near the borders with Syria as pro-government paramilitary troops gain more ground.
Jabbar al-Maamouri, a senior leader at al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), told Alsumaria News that IS, starting Monday morning, began to burn tons of its archives at its main offices, including the hisbah (vigilantism) and security, near residential areas in Baaj.
Maamouri said the step comes to cover “crimes” committed by the group and to conceal the identity of its sympathizers, denoting what he described as a “steep collapses” within its ranks.
Maamouri predicted the battles against IS in Baaj to conclude soon with many group leaders reportedly fleeing the region.
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. They have been actively engaged in the campaign against Islamic State militants in Nineveh’s western regions.
Al-Hashd has recaptured several villages since it launched an operation earlier this month to clear Baaj Qairawan and neighboring from IS. A top leader said last week Qairawan was totally liberated. Al-Hashd had said the regions became isolated from Mosul and from IS havens in Syria.
The campaign in Baaj runs simultaneously with government troops operations in Mosul, Islamic State’s largest stronghold in Iraq. Security forces are currently invading the last districts held by IS in western Mosul, targeting the strategic Old City where IS first declared the inception of its proclaimed “caliphate”.