Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) captured an air base from Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) militants, gaining a strategic foothold in the western desert as they push toward the Syrian border.
While regular Iraqi security forces engage in grueling urban combat inside Mosul, the popular forces have been advancing against Daesh through thinly populated terrain to the southwest, Reuters reported.
Last week, Hashd al-Shaabi forces launched an offensive to retake the Qairawan district, around 95 km west of Mosul.
The Sahl Sinjar airbase is around 65 km east of the Syrian border.
“After rehabilitation, the air base will be an important base for Hashid troops and Iraqi helicopters to transport fighters and arms,” said Karim al-Nuri of the powerful Badr Organization, Reuters reported.
“The air base will help chasing the terrorists in the open desert with Syria.”
The head of the PMF, Falih al-Fayyadh, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Thursday and discussed “close and direct” military cooperation against ISIL (also known as Daesh) along their shared border, Syrian state media said.
Officially answerable to the government in Baghdad, the PMF were formed when the terrorist group overran around one third of Iraq including Mosul nearly three years ago and Iraqi security forces disintegrated.