Iraqi paramilitary forces launched an operation Saturday to cut the Islamic State group's supply lines between its Mosul bastion and neighboring Syria, opening a new front in the nearly two-week-old offensive.
Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary umbrella organization dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias, have largely been on the sidelines since the launch of the operation to retake Mosul.
But on Saturday, they began a push on the town of Tal Afar on the western approach to the city, the only side where ground forces, which have advanced from the north, east and south, are not yet deployed.
"The operation aims to cut supplies between Mosul and Raqa and tighten the siege of (ISIS) in Mosul and liberate Tal Afar," Hashed spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told AFP, referring to ISIS' main stronghold in Syria. READ MORE