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Iraqi Shia Militia Prepare to Liberate Last Large Daesh Stronghold in Iraq

© AFP 2023 / Achilleas Zavallis / Members of the Hashd Al Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units) are seen on the tarmac of the Tal Afar airport on November 20, 2016
Members of the Hashd Al Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units) are seen on the tarmac of the Tal Afar airport on November 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
Powerful Iraqi Shia militia units, known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Shaabi, have completed their last preparations for an offensive to liberate Tal Afar, a strategically important town 60 kilometers to the west of Mosul, one of the last large strongholds controlled by Daesh, one of the PMU units commanders told Sputnik.

Sputnik Turkiye has received official confirmation of this information from the Iraqi army, which will head the operation launched by Turkmen-dominated Hashd al-Shaabi forces.  Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Forces won't take part in the operation, the representatives said.

Civilians move away as Iraqi security forces fight against Islamic State militants on the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF), commonly known as the Golden Division, which took an active part in the liberation of Mosul, will also play a key role in the liberation of Tal Afar.

Ali Hasim Huseyni, one of the Hashd al-Shaabi unit commanders, commented to Sputnik Turkiye on the upcoming operation.

"The Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi units have completed their last preparations for the operation. We are waiting for the command of Iraq's Commander-in–Chief Haider al-Abadi to launch the offensive. Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Forces won't take part in the operation. Iraq's government army will provide aerial support for the operation," he told Sputnik.

The commander explained that Tal Afar remains one of the last large Daesh strongholds in Iraq. There are hundreds of terrorists there, predominantly natives of Iraq. The liberation of Tal Afar will signify a large victory in the fight against terrorism.

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Tal Afar is also a strategically important city, as it is located 63 kilometers to the west of Mosul,  52 km to the east of Sinjar, as is not far from the border with Syria.

Tal Afar has been under Daesh control since mid-2014, when the terrorists captured the town. Before the seizure, it was home to 750,000 people. Many civilians still reside in the city, Ali Hasim Huseyni said.

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