MOSUL, Iraq, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units on Saturday seized new areas from Islamic State (IS) militants around the militants-seized town near the Iraqi-Syrian border in west of Mosul, the units said in a statement.
The predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units freed al-Risalah residential complex in the open land in south of the IS-held town of al-Baaj, about 20 km east of the Syrian border, the statement.
The latest advance made the units taking control of new positions and surrounded the IS-held al-Baaj town from three directions, cutting off IS supply routes in order to isolate the town and liberate it later. Al-Baaj is in the rugged sprawling area in south of the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Mosul.
On May 29, the units made their first arrival at the Iraqi-Syrian border after they freed the town of al-Qahtaniyah, some 18 km east of the Syrian border.
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 de-facto capital of the IS self-declared caliphate.
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.