MOSUL, - The Iraqi security forces and allied paramilitary units, known as Hashd Shaabi, completely encircled the city of Mosul, while the troops continued operations to clear the militants in and out of Mosul, after more than a month, since a major offensive was launched, the Iraqi military said.
The predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units advanced to the west of the Daesh-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, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC).
The latest advance allowed the Hashd Shaabi units to cut off the Daesh 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, preventing the militants from moving outside 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 militants.
The units' presence in the whole area in the west of Mosul would also enable them to secure the border areas between Iraq and neighbouring Syria and would cut off the Daesh supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of Daesh self-declared caliphate.
On Nov 16, the paramilitary troops recaptured a strategic airbase near the town of Tal Afar, which is located some 80 km from the border with Syria.
Tal Afar, held by the Daesh since June, 2014, has majority of both Sunni and Shiite Turkoman people, as well as, other minorities of Kurds and Arabs.
The advance of the predominantly Shiite paramilitary units in the ethnically mixed region, where Sunni Muslims form a majority, could spark sectarian tension with Sunni Arabs and neighbouring Sunni state of Turkey.
The advance to Tal Afar is part of a massive offensive to dislodge the extremist militants from the city of Mosul, which represents their last major stronghold in Iraq.
In south-east Mosul, the army's 9th armoured Division continued their advance towards Mosul and recaptured four villages, the statement added.
In eastern Mosul, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), fought fierce clashes with the militants, as they have been trying to push deeper into the eastern side of the city, locally known as the 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 the militants, according to the JOC statement.
However, the CTS forces have met stubborn resistance from the extremist militants, who are fighting in small groups and move quickly. The extremist groups frequently infiltrated behind the advanced CTS forces using tunnels or sneaking through dozens of houses and buildings.
After more than a month of military operations against the militants in Mosul, almost 68,550 civilians have fled their homes and the number went up every day, according to latest report by the Unites Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Early in the month, hundreds of the CTS commandos and Iraqi army made a significant progress at the eastern side of Mosul and managed to recapture some 10 districts out of about 60 districts on both sides of the city.
Source: Nam News Network