Shia militias take on Daesh to recapture areas near Mosul, Iraq

Published February 23rd, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Pro-government Iraqi forces south of Hawijah, on 10 October 2016 prepare to retake Mosul. (AFP/File)
Pro-government Iraqi forces south of Hawijah, on 10 October 2016 prepare to retake Mosul. (AFP/File)

Iraq's powerful Shia militia launched a major attack Wednesday to recapture areas near the city of Mosul from Daesh, backing an ongoing government offensive against the radical Sunni group.

The attack by the pro-government Popular Mobilization group is aimed at seizing areas west of Mosul, Daesh's last key stronghold in Iraq, militia spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi said.

In October, the militia launched an offensive aimed at recapturing the town of Tel Afar, west of Mosul, from Daesh.

"Over the past few hours, revolutionary battalions have set out for their targets south-west of Tel Afar to eliminate the remaining pockets of treachery and extremism of Daesh," al-Asadi said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

He did not give further details.

Yet, The participation of the Shiite militia in the battle for majority-Sunni Mosul has been controversial.

Local residents and politicians accused Popular Mobilization of abuses, including the killings of a number of civilians, during operations to regain the western city of Fallujah from Islamic State last year.

The militia's new attack comes four days after government forces started a massive ground offensive, backed by a US-led air alliance, on the western section of Mosul, which is still under Daesh control.

Last month, Iraq announced its forces had regained full control of the eastern part of Mosul from Daesh.

Daesh seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in mid-2014.

 


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