Iraqi paramilitaries cutting IS' Syrian supply lines to Mosul

Iraqi paramilitaries cutting IS' Syrian supply lines to Mosul
The movements of Hashd al-Shaabi units west of IS-held Mosul are accompanied by similar advances on the city by Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces to the south, east and north.
2 min read
03 November, 2016
Various Iraqi forces are enclosing IS-held Mosul on four axes [Getty]

Shia paramilitary units have moved to sever the western supply route into the Islamic State-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul.

"Today, God willing, is the completion of the first stage of the Hashd (Popular Mobilisation) operations – that is cutting the supply route of the enemy between Tal Afar and the Muhalabiya district, reaching to Mosul," Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organisation, told Reuters on Thursday.

The Badr Organisation is the largest paramilitary group within the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Units.

Cutting supply lines into Mosul

Speaking to Reuters al-Amiri added that the ultimate intention of Hashd forces would be to completely cut off the main highway linking Mosul with Tal Afar, a majority Shia town that like Mosul has been under IS control since 2014 and is located around 55km north east of Mosul.

"This is the area ISIS entered Mosul from," said al-Amiri, "Severing this road means to completely cut off the enemy's supply lines and surround them."

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.

But, due in part to criticism that their participation in Mosul operations could foment sectarian discord and violence, the Shia brigades have said they will not enter Mosul itself.

Instead Hashd forces are concentrating on retaking Tal Afar, a town located 33 km north east of Mosul. In the last couple of days Rudaw has reported that the umbrella Shia paramilitary group had suffered casualties in the pursuit of this goal.

Al-Amiri’s comments come only a day after Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Iraqi Hizballah Brigades – also part of Hashd al-Shaabi – similarly claimed that the Shia forces had begun to cut off IS supply routes into Mosul, that ultimately connected the extremist group with its de facto capital in Raqqa, 470 km away, across the Syrian border.

Hashd advances towards Mosul from the West are accompanied by advances from the south, east, and north of the city lead by Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, intended to enclose IS militants in the city from all sides.

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