Iraqi flag raised at ISIS southern hub Shoura
State-sanctioned Shiite militias have also launched an assault on ISIS west of Mosul but said they would not enter the city
Iraqi Federal Police has raised on Saturday the country’s flag at an ISIS southern hub in southern Mosul, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
The police said in a brief statement on Saturday that it managed to enter the besieged village of Shoura in southern Mosul from four sides. It confirmed that ISIS is breaking down and withdrawing from its defensive positions.
The police also stated that it has liberated Ain-Nasr village from Shoura’s side killing five terrorists and destroying three booby-trapped cars.
Major General Maan Al-Saadi, commander of the 2nd special division said that the regions that were liberated from ISIS were handed over to “other forces” to establish security and hinder the return of extremists again. The police have also destroyed the network of tunnels extending to the center of Mosul.
Saadi added that the nineth troop is moving forward to Mosul from the south; the northern axis is now completely closed for ISIS fighters, he said, adding that troops are on the Eastern entrances of the city.
Shiite militias launch operation near Mosul
State-sanctioned Shiite militias launched an assault on ISIS west of the Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday but reiterated that they would not enter the Sunni majority city.
Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said they launched an offensive Saturday along with other large militias toward the town of Tel Afar, which had a Shiite majority before it fell to ISIS in 2014. Iranian forces are advising the fighters and Iraqi aircraft are providing airstrikes, he said.
Iraq launched a massive operation to retake militant-held Mosul, its second largest city, last week. The involvement of the Shiite militias has raised concerns the battle could aggravate sectarian divisions.
The Mosul offensive involves more than 25,000 soldiers, Federal Police, Kurdish fighters, Sunni tribesmen and the Shiite militias, which operate under an umbrella organization known as the Popular Mobilization Units.
Many of the militias were originally formed after the 2003 US-led invasion to battle American forces and Sunni insurgents. They were mobilized again and endorsed by the state when ISIS, a Sunni extremist group, swept through northern and central Iraq in 2014, capturing Mosul and other towns and cities.
A US-led coalition has been providing airstrikes and ground support to Iraqi forces in the Mosul offensive, but al-Husseini said it had no involvement in the Iran-backed militias' advance on Tel Afar.
He said the militias will focus on Tel Afar and on securing the western border with Syria. ISIS still controls territory on both sides of the border, where it shuttles fighters, weapons and supplies between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled caliphate.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the International coalition announced on Friday that the Iraqi forces will halt its operations for two days to reinforce the success achieved since the beginning of the liberation operation in Mosul.
American Colonel John Dorian said in a video conference from Baghdad: “We think that it will take approximately two days before resuming our progress towards Mosul”, explaining that this pause comes within the plans of the coalition.