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Iraqi's Shiite militias launch anti-IS push west of Mosul

13 May 2017

Defeat in Mosul, the militants' last urban stronghold in the country, would still leave Islamic State in control of swathes of Syria and Iraqi territory near the Syrian border.

The Iraqi military said in a statement its air force was supporting the operation by the paramilitary groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). He added that the Hashd "is tasked with one of the widest areas, ranging from Qayyara in the west, Tal Afar in the north to the Mosul outskirts in the east and some areas on the Syrian-Iraqi border to the west".

The Iraqi army says it is in the final stages of its campaign to rout the Islamist militants from their last major urban redoubt in Iraq, seven months after the USA -backed operation to recapture the city began.

Pro-government forces launched a major offensive to retake the city in October with the support of USA -led coalition airstrikes.

The extremists' deterrence seems effective as cases of families attempting to flee Daesh-held areas before the arrival of the federal security forces are relatively rare. "I say that Daesh (IS) will be finished in days, God willing", Gen Ghanimi told BBC Arabic on Thursday using another term for ISIS.

"I say that the rest of Mosul will be liberated before the holy month of Ramadan".

A map published today by the Armed Forces media section said that Iraqi troops already control over 90 percent of the western zone of Mosul, the second most important city of Iraq.

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The units and the army's helicopters destroyed at least five suicide auto bombs trying to hit the advanced units, and two IS vehicles during sporadic fierce clashes with IS militants, the statement said.

Iraq's military does not release casualty figures, but a USA general said at the end of March that 774 Iraqi security personnel had been killed and 4,600 wounded.

Rudaw's Ranja Jamal, embedded with the Iraqi forces, reported ongoing clashes in the Islah al-Zaraye and Iqtsadiyeen districts northwest of the right bank of the Tigris River that bisects the city. Others are staying with relatives and friends.

Numerous civilians who are not locked in by Daesh essentially do it themselves and hunker down in basements with whatever food supplies they still have.

"This population is not only exposed to the immediate dangers of the conflict itself and being either targeted or hit as collateral damage, but is also facing the effects of just no longer really having much access to the basic essentials that they need to live", Hamilton said after a trip to Iraq.

"There are people dying of hunger and disease now, especially children and elderly people", he said, adding that it was impossible to know exactly how many.

Iraqi's Shiite militias launch anti-IS push west of Mosul