Shiite paramilitaries say strategic town, two villages taken from ISIS west of MosulDec 14, 2016
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries announced on Wednesday they had captured a strategic town and two villages in western Mosul as part of a wide-ranging operation to retake the city and its vicinities from ISIS militants.
Describing the town as an ”important ISIS position” in western Mosul, Haji Jawdat, a Shiite military official in Kirkuk, told Rudaw that “following the start of the fifth phase of liberating Mosul’s western areas, the Hashd al-Shaabi forces managed to bring the town of Ashwah and the villages of Hwetla and Hussein Jomaa under control.”
Jawdat added that “the town of Ashwah was the most important ISIS position in the area. Taking control of the town removes ISIS threats on Tal Afar.”
The total areas taken by Hashd from ISIS in Tal Afar, he disclosed, “is 149 villages and many other areas since the start of the Hashd al-Shaabi’s operation.”
Last month, Hashd al-Shaabi captured the ISIS supply route from Tal Afar to Syria
Sunni Turkmen in the city fear retribution at the hands of the Shiite group.
Turkey has also threatened to intervene militarily against the Hashd al-Shaabi if they abuse Tal Afar’s Sunni Turkmen civilians or if they enter the town.
The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has long said that only the official army will enter the town and that the Hashd al-Shaabi is only playing a supporting role.
The predominantly Turkmen town of Tal Afar, 65 kilometers west of Mosul, fell to ISIS on June 10, 2014.