Qairawan (Mosul ) Pro-Iraqi government paramilitary troops have completed 70 percent of a first phase of operations designed to clear regions west of Mosul and near the Syrian borders from Islamic State militants.
Abu Mahdi al-Mohandess, deputy commander of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), said Wednesday that al-Hashd forces achieved 70 percent of its targets during the first phase of operations to recapture al-Qairawan region, west of Mosul, from IS militants.
He said that PMUs first brigade repelled an attack by IS on Wednesday which left four attackers dead and their vehicle burned in the northern section of Qairawan.
An offensive to clear Qairawan and neighboring Baaj from IS launched nearly a week ago backed by fighter jets from the Iraqi army and the U.S.-led coalition, managing to retake and besiege more than 30 villages and severing IS supply lines from Syria.
Iraqi government forces have become close to retaking the western section of Mosul and declaring the full recapture of the city that fell in IS grip in 2014. The eastern section was retaken in January.
On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said Iraqi troops became in control over 89.5 percent of territory at western Mosul, having killed more than 16000 militants since the launch of Mosul operations in October. Other commanders had predicted to recapture the city before the end of this month.
Iraqi government forces are eyeing the ancient, densely structured and populated Old City, the place where Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of an “Islamic Caliphate” in 2014. Troops besieged the area for weeks from the south, but turned to the northwestern axis to invade the city earlier this month. IS fighters are believed to have been holding hundreds of thousands at that area as human shields.