- Title: Iraq Shi'ite paramilitaries close to cutting Mosul supply route
- Date: 21st November 2016
- Summary: TAL AFAR, WEST OF MOSUL, IRAQ (NOVEMBER 20, 2016) (REUTERS) SHI'ITE FIGHTERS KNOWN AS HASHID SHAABI OR POPULAR MOBILISATION FORCES (PMF) IN VEHICLES GROUP OF SHI'ITE FIGHTERS ON MILITARY TRUCK CHEERING FOR GRAND SHI'ITE AYATOLLAH SAYYID ALI AL-SISTANI GROUP OF FIGHTERS SITTING IN PICK-UP TRUCK FLASHING "V" SIGN FROM WINDOWS, SAYING (Arabic): "Shi'ite will be victorious and we will defeat Daesh, God willing, and we will go to Syria and Yemen." GROUP OF SHI'ITE FIGHTERS IN TRUCK LEAVING OLD FIGHTER OF HASHID SHAABI IN BACK OF PICK-UP, SAYING (Arabic): "We are going to Tal Afar to kick Daesh out of our land, the land of the Mesapotamia, the land of sanctities and the land of the prophets. We have to kick Daesh out of our lands." / DRIVING AWAY HASHID SHAABI COMMANDER SPEAKING ON RADIO SHI'ITE FIGHTERS STANDING NEAR VEHICLE FLYING SHI'ITE FLAG READING (Arabic): "O Hussein" GROUP OF SHI'ITE FIGHTERS WITH THEIR VEHICLES AT ENTRANCE TO TAL AFAR AIRBASE DAMAGED FACILITIES OF TAL AFAR AIRBASE WITH SHI'ITE RED BANNERS FLYING ON TOP BURNT OUT WRECKAGE AND DEMOLISHED BUILDING OF AIRBASE WITH SHI'ITE BANNER FLYING ON TOP GROUP OF JOURNALISTS AND SHI'ITE FIGHTERS AT TAL AFAR BASE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ABU HANNAN AL-KAN'ANI, COMMANDER OF 4TH BRIGADE, HASHID SHAABI, SAYING: "By liberating Tal Afar airbase we completed the third phase. Today is the third day after the capturing of the airbase. We have totally cleared it, but it was totally destroyed by Daesh. God willing in the coming days, we will continue to advance towards the centre of Tal Afar to cut off the supply routes from Syria to Tal Afar and Mosul." RUBBLE OF DAMAGED CONCRETE OF AIRBASE BUILDING WITH GRAFFITI READING (Arabic): "The 4th Brigade" SHI'ITE FIGHTER STANDING BEHIND PILED EARTH WITH IRAQI FLAG FLYING ON TOP CONCRETE RUBBLE AND TWISTED IRON BARS OF BUILDING AT BASE SHI'ITE FIGHTER TAKING COVER BEHIND CONCRETE RUBBLE DAMAGED BUILDING AT AIRBASE INSIDE ONE OF AIRBASE BUILDINGS WITH BARRIER OF SAND BAGS AND TUNNEL DUG BY ISLAMIC STATE MILITANTS SHI'ITE FIGHTER INSIDE TUNNEL HASHID SHAABI DIGGER TRUCKS AT AIRBASE VARIOUS OF HASHID SHAABI VEHICLES AND SHI'ITE FIGHTERS AT BASE MORE OF HASHID SHAABI VEHICLES AND FIGHTERS SECURING AREA NEAR BASE GROUP OF FIGHTERS IN PICK-UP FLASHING "V" SIGN AND SAYING (Arabic): "We are coming Tal Afar" / DRIVING AWAY
- Embargoed: 6th December 2016 05:44
- Keywords: Tal Afar airbase Hashid Shaabi Shi'ite fighters
- Location: TAL AFAR, WEST MOSUL, IRAQ
- City: TAL AFAR, WEST MOSUL, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00159DYWXZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Iraqi Shi'ite paramilitary groups are close to cutting the main supply route to Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, closing in on the highway that links the Syrian and Iraqi parts of the militants' self-declared caliphate.
Six weeks into the U.S.-backed offensive on Mosul, Islamic State is fighting back in the region of Tal Afar, 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the west, against a coalition of Iranian-backed militias known as Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation.
Earlier this week Iranian-backed militias captured the Tal Afar airbase, west of Mosul, part of their campaign to choke off the route between the Syrian and Iraqi parts of the caliphate Islamic State declared in 2014.
The base is located just south of Tal Afar, a mostly ethnic Turkmen town that Turkey would not want to fall under the control of the mostly pro-Iranian militia coalition known as Popular Mobilisation, or Hashid Shaabi.
"By liberating Tal Afar airbase we completed the third phase. Today is the third day after the capturing of the airbase. We have totally cleared it, but it was totally destroyed by Daesh. God willing in the coming days, we will continue to advance towards the centre of Tal Afar to cut off the supply routes from Syria to Tal Afar and Mosul," said Abu Hannan al-Kan'ani, commander of the 4th Brigade of Hashid Shaabi on Sunday (November 20).
Hashid Shaabi plan to besiege the town for now, a spokesman of Kata'ib Hezbollah, one of the main paramilitary groups making up the coalition, told Reuters on Friday (November 18).
Iraqi military estimates put the number of Islamic State fighters in Mosul at 5,000 to 6,000. Facing them is a 100,000-strong coalition of Iraqi government forces, Kurdish fighters and Shi'ite paramilitary units.
Cutting the western road to Tal Afar would seal off Mosul as the city is already surrounded from the north, the south and the east by Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service unit breached Islamic State's defences end of October and is fighting to expand a foothold it gained on the eastern side of the city.
The road to Tal Afar is no longer safe, said a truck driver who used it two days ago to bring in fruits and vegetables from Raqqa, asking not to be identified as the insurgents punish by death those caught communicating with the outside world.
A Hashid spokesman told Reuters over the weekend that they were already advancing to the main highway as part of operations to seal off Mosul completely.
The Iraqi airforce supporting the Hashid in their fight near Tal Afar carried out airstrikes that killed 15 insurgents, including a group that was hiding in a tunnel in the airbase, according to a military statement published Sunday.
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