Iraqi paramilitaries claim capture of Mosul-Raqqa highway from IS

Iraqi paramilitaries claim capture of Mosul-Raqqa highway from IS
A brigade within the Iran-backed Shia force made the announcement on Wednesday and is now in a position to cut Islamic State supply lines into Mosul
2 min read
02 November, 2016
Hashd al-Shaabi announced their participation in the Mosul campaign in the last week [Getty]

A spokesman for one of the leading Shia militias within the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, claimed on Wednesday that its fighters had regained control of a highway linking the Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul in northern Iraq with the extremist group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, located approximately 470 km away, across the Syrian border.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Iraqi Hizballah Brigades, said on Wednesday that his troops were now in a position to begin cutting IS’ supply lines into Mosul in comments published by The Associated Press.

Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, backed by airstrikes carried out by a US-led coalition of international states, began an assault on the IS-held city of Mosul on 17 October. Hashd al-Shaabi units joined the fight in the last week.

However, due in part to criticism that their participation in Mosul operations could lead to sectarian motivated acts of vengeance, the Shia brigades have said they will not enter Mosul itself but instead focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town located 55 km west of Mosul, that had a Shia majority before it fell to IS in 2014.

On Tuesday, at least 15 Hashd al-Shabi fighters were killed, and a further 30 wounded in villages surrounding Tal Afar.

According to Rudaw the majority of those killed fell victim to booby trapped explosive devices laid covertly by retreating IS fighters.

Rudaw reported on Wednesday that Hashd al-Shaabi forces had advanced on Wednesday to within 30 km of Tal Afar.