Shiite militia says to have taken Mosul-Raqqa road
BAGHDADA spokesman of a Shiite militia said Nov. 2 that its fighters have gained control of a highway linking the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held city of Mosul to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the militants’ self-proclaimed caliphate.
Earlier this week, Shiite militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, joined the operation to retake Mosul from ISIL. They said they would not enter the city of Mosul and would instead focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town to the west.
Turkey opposes their participation in the offensive to take Tal Afar, saying that it would reinforce its troop deployments in the border town of Silopi amid a possible Shiite offensive to liberate Tal Afar, which has a sizeable ethnic Turkmen population and is considered a sensitive target for Ankara.
Meanwhile, Iraqi special forces paused their advance in an eastern district of Mosul on Nov. 2 to clear a neighborhood of any remaining ISIL militants, as forces further to the south of the city took four small villages near Hamam al-Alil, military officials said.
In Mosul’s easternmost Gogjali district, special forces could be seen going house to house while sappers searched the road for explosives and booby traps left behind by the jihadist driven out a day earlier.
Gen. Abdul-Ghani al-Asadi, the top counterterrorism forces commander, told reporters a curfew had been imposed in the neighborhood while gains there were being consolidated.
Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Timimi of the Iraqi special forces tells The Associated Press Nov. 2 that they killed eight ISIL fighters while carrying out house-to-house clearances in the newly-recaptured neighborhood of Gogjali and six of the militants were killed inside a tunnel. He said the other two militants attempted to approach the troops and were shot dead.
Further to the south, where progress has been much slower, Federal Police forces captured four small villages outside the Hamam al-Alil area, over 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Mosul, the army said. The largest of the four is Min Gar, some 10 km (6 miles) west of Hamam al-Alil, spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool said of the Nov.2 morning operation.