Iraqi paramilitary forces free 6 IS-held villages amid new push in west of Mosul

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-13 19:39:49|Editor: xuxin
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MOSUL, Iraq, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi paramilitary units of Hashd Shaabi units on Saturday took control of six villages on the second day of an operation aimed at securing areas near the Iraqi-Syrian border from Islamic State (IS) militants, the Iraqi military said.

The predominantly Shiite units, backed by the army's helicopters, continued their advance in west of Mosul and defeated IS militants in the six villages around the IS-held town of al-Qairwan, which locates in the rugged sprawling area southwest of Tal Afar and south of Sinjar, the Hashd Shaabi said in a statement.

The paramilitary units isolated al-Qairwan and cut off the IS supply routes on main roads between the town and Tal Afar and Sinjar, the statement added.

The paramilitary fighters fought sporadic fierce clashes with IS militants in the freed villages, which scattered in north, east and south of al-Qairwan, according to the statement.

The Hashd Shaabi units evacuated some 1,500 villagers from their homes on the battleground to safer areas and provided food, water and medicine for them, it added.

On Friday, the Hashd Shaabi units launched a new push in the early morning from six directions to the west to free the vast IS-held areas near the border with Syria, including the towns of al-Qairwan and Baaj.

During the day, the paramilitary units fought sporadic fierce clashes with IS militants and managed to free a total of 21 villages in north, east and south of the town of al-Qairwan, leaving some 77 IS militants killed and destroying 15 suicide car bombs trying to hit the advanced units.

The operation would enable the Hashd Shaabi units to secure the border areas between Iraq and neighboring Syria and cut off the IS supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of IS self-declared caliphate.

The operation came as the Iraqi security forces, backed by anti-IS international coalition, are carrying out a major offensive to dislodge IS militants from their major stronghold in the western side of Mosul in northern Iraq.