Iraqi troops, paramilitary forces entirely encircle Mosul
Mosul, Nov 24 (IANS) The Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitary units, known as Hashd Shaabi, on Wednesday completely encircled the city of Mosul, while the troops continued operations to clear the Islamic State (IS) militants in and out of Mosul over a month after a major offensive was launched, the Iraqi military said.
The predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units advanced to west of the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, recapturing six villages and seizing the main road between Tal Afar and nearby town of Sinjar, Xinhua news agency quoted a statement issued by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) as saying.
The latest advance allowed the Hashd Shaabi units to cut off the IS supply routes from the west side of Mosul, and enabling both the paramilitary units and other Iraqi and Kurdish security forces to entirely isolate and surround the city of Mosul, the statement said.
The paramilitary units started their advance on Tuesday morning when they moved to encircle the town of Tal Afar, preparing for the next stage to free it from the IS militants.
The units’ presence in the whole area in west of Mosul would also enable them to secure the border areas between Iraq and neighbouring Syria and would cut off the IS supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of IS self-declared caliphate.
In southeast of Mosul, the army’s 9th armoured Division continued their advance toward Mosul and recaptured four villages, the statement added.
In eastern Mosul, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) fought fierce clashes with the IS militants as they have been trying to push deeper into the eastern side of the city, locally known as left bank of the Tigris River.
The CTS commandos cleared many buildings of the residential compound in Khadraa district in eastern Mosul after sporadic clashes with IS militants, according to the JOC statement.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on October 17 announced a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
Since then, the Iraqi security forces have inched to the eastern fringes of Mosul and made progress on other routes around the city.
Mosul, some 400 km north of Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under the IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions.