(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iraqi Army assisted by Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have launched a large-scale operation against ISIS Takfiri terrorist group in the northwestern district of Tal Afar.
The Iraqi army, backed by PMU started advancing Aug. 1 and soon took control of 18 villages southeast of Tal Afar city. ISIS terrorists have occupied the city since mid-2014, is reportedly without supply lines and has been under siege by Popular Mobilization Forces for several months. Tal Afar is one of the last remaining bastions of ISIS after Iraqi government forces declared victory in Mosul, 63 kilometers (39 miles) away, in July.
Iraqi Army Captain Jabbar Hassan confirmed on Thursday that PMU forces have cleared the road linking the Al-Adaya area of western Mosul to the Ayn al-Jahsh area of southeastern Tal Afar, along with the Baghdad-Mosul Highway.
The ongoing military operation, he added, “is aimed at consolidating our presence in Tal Afar in advance of a fresh campaign to decisively liberate the district”.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said earlier that Iraqi army and police units -- backed by PMU forces -- would take part in planned operations to recapture Tal Afar, located 60 kilometers west of Mosul.
The Iraqi parliament last year recognized PMU as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army
A senior Iraqi general has predicted a relatively easy victory for his forces in the upcoming battle for the ISIS haven of Tal Afar as up 2,000 fighters and their families there are “worn out and demoralized.” Maj. Gen. Najm al-Jabouri has said he does not expect it will be a fierce battle even though the enemy is surrounded.
Beyond Tal Afar, ISIS still controls other pockets of territory in Iraq, including the town of Hawijah and the surrounding area.