MOSUL - Iraqi forces have thwarted an
attempt by around 200 jihadist fighters to
flee their bastion of Tal Afar towards
Syria, west of the city of Mosul, a security
spokesman said Monday.
Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular
Mobilisation), a paramilitary organisation
dominated by Shiite militia groups, said the
Islamic State group used tanks in their bid
to break out of Tal Afar.
"The attack by the Daesh (IS) terrorist
gangs started at around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT on
Sunday), the fighting lasted around six
hours," their spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi
Hashed forces have been deployed in
desert areas west of Mosul since federal
forces launched a massive operation to
retake the city from IS on October 17.
Their main goals are to retake Tal Afar,
a Turkmen-majority city which is still held
by IS, and to prevent the jihadists from
being able to move men and equipment between
Mosul and their strongholds in Syria.
"This was an attempt by Daesh to open a
breach, flee to the Syria border and
exfiltrate some leaders and fighters,"
He said that Hashed forces received
support from army aviation helicopters when
IS attacked them. He added that the fighting
left around 50 IS members killed and 17 of
their vehicles destroyed.
Assadi did not provide a casualty figure
for the Hashed al-Shaabi following the
attack, which took place around 20
kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Tal Afar.
IS jihadists are confined to a corridor
between Tal Afar and Mosul by tens of
thousands of forces deployed on several
After retaking the eastern side of Mosul
last month, Iraqi forces are preparing to
launch an assault on the west bank of the
The early stages of the Mosul offensive
saw IS move fighters between Mosul and the
Syrian city of Raqa, its other major urban
stronghold, but their supply lines have now
been cut off.