Mosul: Shiite militias battle IS for Tal Afar Airport
Fierce fighting in the area. The goal is to eliminate the pockets of jihadist resistance and cut the supply route to Mosul. The presence of Shiite forces in the context of the offensive source of controversy. According to critics would be responsible for violations and abuse against Sunni Arabs.
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Iraqi (Shiite) Paramilitary Forces have entered Tal Afar airport, west of Mosul, the Islamic State stronghold in the north of the country, the target of the offensive launched on October 17 last year by the army and Kurdish Peshmerga. Fierce fighting is ongoing in an attempt to eliminate the pockets of jihadist resistance in the area.
The airport is located about six kilometers south of the homonymous town of Tal Afar: The ultimate goal of the operation launched by Iraqi forces in recent days is to break links between Mosul and the territory west controlled by the IS.
The struggle for the conquest of Tal Afar is so far the main task for the Hashed al-Shaabi, a pro-government paramilitary umbrella organization, composed largely of Shia militias. It is one of many groups involved in the recapture of Mosul, which began a month ago.
Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Hashed al-Shaabi, reports that they are carrying out an "operation" to hit "pockets" of Daesh fighters [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] hidden inside the airport. " After inspecting the airport, it will become the base from which the Shiite militias will launch the offensive "to rid the center of Tal Afar and cut the supply lines between Mosul and Tal Afar."
The presence of Shiite militias, close to Tehran, has been a source of controversy in recent weeks; both in Iraq and abroad several dissenting voices have expressed doubts - if not outright hostility - with respect to their participation. They are responsible for the abuses and human rights violations of Sunni Arabs, who make up the majority of the population of Mosul.
The town of Tal Afar, before the rise of IS was composed mostly of Shiites; this is why the forces of Hashed al-Shaabi have claimed a role in the battle, although so far only the Iraqi regular soldiers and forces entered the city.
In addition, the Hashed al-Shaabi militia played an essential role in the summer of 2014, in limiting the advance of Daesh and containing it in the territories of Mosul and the Nineveh plain, when in fact the Iraqi regular army threw down their weapons and left the field free to the jihadists.