On Wednesday, the Popular Mobilization Forces declared it would be supporting Iraqi troops in the Tal Afar area as part of the operation on Mosul. Taking Tal Afar would cut off an escape route for the Islamic State militants fleeing Mosul. Separately, Moscow voiced its belief that militants must be stopped before reaching safety in Syria.
This umbrella group of Shi’ite militias also announced they would be supporting troops entering Mosul. Major General Gary Volesky, the commander of U.S.-led coalition ground forces warned the Coalition would not support the militiamen. However, this could be a repeat of the battle for Fallujah earlier this year. U.S. authorities insisted that militias stay out of Fallujah, but the militiamen did not. The list of war crimes there is long.
This time, the P.M.L. was supposedly being sent to Hawija specifically to keep them out of the Mosul arena. The decision came after tough negotiations in Baghdad. It is unclear why a group of militiamen is not following their orders.
Meanwhile, Army General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command said that the operation in Mosul could take months to complete, depending on how vigorously Daesh militants defend themselves. He reported significant resistance in Mosul’s outlying areas. Authorities estimate that about 5,000 to 6,000 Daesh fighters are left in Mosul, but their leaders may already be abandoning them.
Also, thousands of refugees have arrived in Syria, and thousands more are waiting their chance to cross the border. Refugee centers are planning for as many as 100,000 refugees.
Iraqi forces retook Bakr, Najma, Osmaniyah Rafla, Siewah, and Zawiya.
Shi’ite militiamen captured Bayda, Khirbet Hadid, and Shami.
Shura and Tel al-Samn were also reported freed.
To the south, the road between Haditha and Baiji has been completely cleared of militants.
Special forces have arrived in Bartala.
There are reports of snipers attacking militants in Mosul.
At least 232 people were killed and four were wounded.
In Houd, a militant shot and killed a man parading around with an Iraqi flag. This prompted the town to rebel against the militants. Reporters saw at least five bodies, but many more militants could have been killed. A man reported that his father was killed in the uprising.
Militants executed 16 people in Azba on charges of spying.
Security forces killed at least 96 militants on the southern front.
A suicide bomber blew himself up among Daesh members trying to flee to Syria.
In Jouna, security forces killed 21 militants.
Twenty-one militants were killed in clashes with federal police in Bojwana.
Strikes left 15 militants dead in Qayara.
In Mosul, resistance forces killed five militants
In Qayara and Hamdaniya, security forces killed two militant leaders.
A militant commander was killed in Begawan.
Mortars left several casualties among security personnel.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- Bodies Pollute River in Mosul; 12 Killed in Iraq – March 18th, 2018
- Seven U.S. Airmen Among 131 Killed in Iraq – March 16th, 2018
- U.S. Military Helicopter Crash; 63 Killed in Iraq – March 15th, 2018
- Mass Grave Found Near Kirkuk; 29 Killed in Iraq – March 14th, 2018
- Militiaman Shoots P.M.’s Security Officer; 32 Killed in Iraq – March 13th, 2018