Iraq’s Popular Forces Capture Key Area near Syria Border

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Fighters from Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, have captured from Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) Baaj, an area near the border with Syria, Iraqi state TV said on Sunday.

The capture of Baaj shrinks the area under control of the Takfiri militants in the border region between Iraq and Syria, where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be hiding, Reuters reported.

Recently, Ahmed al-Assadi, the spokesman for Hashd al-Shaabi, said the terrorist group has suffered losses of more than 80 percent of its combat troops and equipment and is nearing its end.

He further stressed that Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces will continue their cooperation with the Syrian government in order to make more advances against the terror group and liberate all Daesh-held areas.

The Iraqi commander also said Hashd al-Shaabi troops will launch major offensives against Daesh in the near future to wrest control of the districts of Hawijah, located 48 kilometers west of Kirkuk, Shirqat, located some 300 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, and the Hamrin Mountains in northern Salahuddin.

Iraqi forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a new push last week to capture the group’s remaining enclave in western Mosul, comprising of the Old City center, and three adjacent districts alongside the western bank of the River Tigris.

The fall of the city would, in effect, mark the end of the terrorist group in Iraq. Meanwhile in Syria, the Syrian government forces as well as Kurdish forces are making gains against the Daesh militants in the city of Raqqa, the militants’ de facto capital in that country.

The Mosul offensive, now in its eighth month, has taken much more time than expected as the terror group is fighting in the middle of civilians and using them as human shields.

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