Iraq’s pro-government Popular Mobilization Units say they have accomplished their goals in the battle against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the western flank of the flashpoint city of Mosul.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the forces commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, broke the news at a press conference on Friday, adding that the fighters had already “liberated 14,000 square kilometers and 360 villages,” Arabic-language al-Sumeria TV network reported.
He went on to say that the pro-government fighters “have also managed to kill 2,000 Daesh terrorists west of the northern province of Nineveh,” of which Mosul is the capital.
Mohandis added that the units “are ready to liberate Tal Afar town,” situated 63 kilometers west of Mosul, from the grips of Daesh, and “are now waiting for the orders of Iraqi Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief Haider al-Abadi.”
He also said the units had so far liberated between 50 and 60 kilometers of the Iraqi-Syrian borderline.
Late last month, the paramilitary units, consisting of some 40 mainly Shia Muslim groups, reached the Syrian border in the north in an attempt to block Daesh from crossing the common border.
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, fell to Daesh in 2014, when the terrorist group began its campaign of death and destruction in Iraq, making the city its de facto capital in the Arab country. However, Iraqi forces took control of its eastern part in January and the push for the western side, separated from the east by the Tigris River, began in February.
The terror group currently holds less than nine percent of western Mosul and is on the brink of total defeat in the city. The full liberation of Mosul would likely spell the end for the Iraqi half of Daesh’s so-called caliphate.
Earlier this week, the popular forces liberated the strategic district of Ba’aj, located some 30 kilometers from the Syrian border.
On Tuesday, Abadi vowed to block the border with Syria to Daesh. Blocking the Syrian border means terrorists would no longer receive reinforcement and ammunition from Raqqah, the terror group’s de facto capital in Syria, which is also waiting to be totally liberated by the advancing Syrian troops.
Separately, the media bureau of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement on Friday that dozens of Daesh terrorists had been killed after Iraqi warplanes carried several airstrikes against terror group’s positions in Tal al-Qasab village in Qairawan region west of Mosul.
Qairawan, a main Daesh stronghold connecting Tal Afar town to the Syrian border, was largely liberated late last month following a major offensive by Hashd al-Sha’abi forces some three weeks earlier.
Gruesome violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh terrorists mounted an offensive there in the summer of 2014, and took control of portions of the Iraqi territory.
The terrorists have been committing heinous crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in Iraq, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians.