MOSUL, Iraq, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units on Tuesday recaptured the town of al-Qairwan from Islamic State (IS) militants, as part of an operation aimed at dislodging the extremist militants from areas near Iraqi-Syrian border in west of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.
"The Hashd Shaabi liberated al-Qairwan and all the villages around it, and are now in control of the main roads and an airbase in north and south of the town," Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.
The paramilitary units stormed the town about 22:00 on Monday (1900 GMT), and clashes inside the town continued to about 5:00 Tuesday (0200 GMT), the Hashd Shaabi said in its statement.
In the morning, the troops searched the town looking for the militants, while teams of explosive experts launched an operation to defuse or detonate roadside bombs and booby-trapped houses in the town, which located in the rugged sprawling area south of Sinjar, about 100 km west of Mosul, according to the Hashd Shaabi statement.
After the recapture al-Qairwan, the Hashd Shaabi units ended their first stage of major offensive designed to secure the border areas with neighboring Syria and cut off the IS' supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the IS' self-declared caliphate.
The paramilitary units are now preparing advance further to the west to liberate the other militants-seized town of Baaj, 25 km west of al-Qairwan.
Furthermore, the operation came as Iraqi security forces, backed by the anti-IS international coalition, were simultaneously conducting a major offensive to dislodge IS militants from their major stronghold in western Mosul.
Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to control parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.