Iraqi forces push to Syrian border line to dislodge IS militants

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-29 23:07:34|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MOSUL, Iraq, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units on Monday reached the Iraqi-Syrian border after they dislodged Islamic State (IS) militants from towns and villages during their push to the border line, the units said in a statement.

The Hashd Shaabi units pushed in the early morning to border line from the newly-freed town of al-Qahtaniyah, which itself located some 18 km east of the Syrian border, making their first arrival to the border line in south of Sinjar mountain, the statement said.

On Sunday, the units freed al-Qahtaniyah and nearby residential complex in north of the IS-held town of Baaj, some 25 km west of the newly-freed town of al-Qairwan.

Baaj and al-Qairwan are located in the rugged sprawling area in south of the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Mosul, and extend further to the Iraqi-Syrian border in the west.

The predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units, backed by army's helicopter gunships, also freed the villages of Wadi al-Miedar and Taro while they were advancing from al-Qahtaniyah to the Syrian border, the statement said.

The units fought sporadic clashes against IS militants during the day and killed some 21 extremist militants, along with destroying four IS headquarters in the two villages, the statement added.

Other Hashd Shaabi units are taking positions near the IS-held Baaj and took control of IS supply routes around the town in order to isolate it and liberate the town later.

The latest advance is part of a major offensive designed to secure the border areas with neighboring Syria and cut off IS supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the IS self-declared caliphate.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Iraqi forces, arrived to the Hashd Shaabi's Operations Command headquarters in west of Mosul and held a meeting with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Hashd Shaabi units, the units said in a brief statement.

The operations near the Syrian border 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.