Iraqi forces recapture 17 villages from IS near Syrian border

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-06 22:08:04|Editor: xuxin
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MOSUL, Iraq, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units on Tuesday extended grip near the Iraqi-Syrian border in west of Mosul and recaptured 17 villages and three housing complexes from Islamic State (IS) militants, the units said in a statement.

The predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units, backed by the army's helicopter gunships, liberated the villages and the housing complexes, which located in southwest of the newly freed town of Baaj, some 20 km east of the Syrian border, the statement said.

Baaj itself is located in the rugged sprawling area in south of Sinjar mountain range in northeastern Iraq.

During the day, the paramilitary units and the army helicopter gunships killed some 47 IS militants and destroyed their defensive lines in west of Baaj and the areas adjacent to the border line with Syria, the statement said.

The units also evacuated more than 200 families from the battlefields to safer areas and provide food and drinking water for the families, according to the statement.

The operation near the border 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.

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 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.