A senior commander of the Iraqi volunteer forces announced that his forces have started advancing towards Tal Afar airport, and cautioned that the Hashd al-Shaabi fighters might clash with the Turkish army troops in the area.
“Hashd al-Shaabi forces started the second round of their mop-up operation mission at Tal Afar airport; the airport is located 8 kilometers from Tal Afar city and Hashd al-Shaabi forces are advancing cautiously due to the possibility of clashes with the Turkish army,” Hassab Abdel Hadi said on Monday.
He noted that the Turkish forces are in the surrounding areas of Tal Afar, but some of them have entered the city in plainclothes “because Hashd al-Shaabi is advancing towards Tal Afar and al-Mahlabieh and has, hence, cut the (ISIL’s) aid route to Raqqa” in Syria.
Abdel Hadi pointed to the Turkish army’s movements in Northern Mosul, and said “the Iraqi government has already warned Turkey to leave the region”, but they don’t because the latter considers “Mosul as a province of the Ottoman Empire”.
On Sunday, Deputy Chief of the Nineveh Provincial Council Noureddin Qablan announced that the ISIL terrorist group has arrested thousands of civilians in Tal Afar city to use them as human shield.
“A sum of 20,000 citizens of Tal Afar, specially Abata Hill (Tal Abata) and Mahlabieh districts, have been detained by the ISIL terrorist group to be used as human shields,” Qablan said.
He noted that the ISIL also forced hundreds of families of Tal Afar city to leave their homes and move to al-Ba’aj region and the Syrian territories.
“The intelligence obtained from the ISIL terrorists in Tal Afar confirms that most of the ISIL terrorists of Tal Afar are foreigners and only some of them are Iraqis,” Qablan added.
On Friday, the Iraqi popular forces said that they have thus far liberated over 45 villages West of Mosul as they continue their offensive against ISIL’s positions towards the town of Tal Afar.
Mohammad al-Basri, one of the field commanders of Iraqi popular forces told FNA that over 45 villages have been liberated and the volunteer forces have captured over 350 sq/km of territories West of Mosul towards Tal Afar.
“Based on the previously agreed plan between Baghdad and Damascus, the ISIL terrorists fleeing Mosul can be pursued in Syria,” he further added.
“The large population in some villages has slowed down our forces’ operation. ISIL is using civilians as human shield in Mosul and other regions.”
He called on Mosul’s civilians to leave the city via the security corridors established by Iraqi security forces.
The Iraqi Federal police command confirmed on Thursday that its forces liberated 10 villages South of Mosul as they continued their operation to capture the Northern city from ISIL militants.
“The outcome of the military operations conducted by the federal police troops in the Southern flanks of Mosul, has included the liberation of Al-Mincar, Bazonah, Poglawin, Kharrar, Ain Shalhoub, Al-Kusbah, Al-Khafsan, Al-Qahira, Munira and Nazazah villages South of Hamam al-Alil district,” Federal Police Commander Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat said, Badr News reported.
The operation to retake Mosul from the ISIL has been ongoing since October 17. More than 30,000 Iraqi and 4,000 Kurdish fighters are taking part in the offensive, backed by about 5,000 US troops and supported by US-led coalition airstrikes. Mosul has been occupied by the ISIL since 2014.
The Iraqi push to drive terrorists out of their main stronghold has recently met with fierce resistance. The Iraqi armed forces are receiving air support from a US-led international coalition, which reportedly killed further 149 ISIL members earlier this week.