Nineveh/ Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said Wednesday they killed 20 Islamic State militants in western Mosul, while two of its fighters were killed hours earlier in an attack by the extremist group in Salahuddin.
The force’s media service said in a statement it killed 20 Islamic State militants, including four wearing explosive belts, after a failed attack by the militants on al-Hajaf, in the town of Tal Abta, west of Mosul. It said three vehicles used by IS were destroyed in the encounters.
Al-Hashd launched recently a new phase of operations against IS around the group’s strategic stronghold town of Tal Afar.
Also on Wednesday, DPA reported that two PMU fighters were killed and five others were wounded in attacks by IS late Tuesday at al-Dour, Salahuddin province. It quoted a security source saying that combat reinforcements forced the militants back to their launching point at Mutaibija region, 30 km east of Samarra, after fierce battles.
The source said the attack at al-Dour began with an explosion of a booby-trapped car driven by an IS suicide bomber before a mortar shell landed on a residential compound in the area. The situation prompted a brief curfew at al-Dour, said the source.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, an alliance of dozens of Shia militias, which won government recognition as a national force, has been actively fighting Islamic State since its formation in 2014. It made remarkable victories in western Mosul late 2016 when it recaptured major Islamic State bastions near Tal Afar.
Late January, PMUs launched an operation to clear roads linking Mosul with Salahuddin and Baghdad.
Since its inception, al-Hashd grappled with accusations by international human rights groups and Sunni powers of committing abuses against Sunni civilians. The Iraqi government has eagerly defended the force against the claims.