Baaj – Iraqi paramilitary forces continued operations to clear the borders with Syria from militants on Friday, killing six members of the Islamic State, including a senior leader.
A statement by al-Hashd al-Shaaib (Popular Mobilization) said through its media service that forces had killed six members of the Islamic State’s commando forces, including Hassan Kanahs al-Zebeidi, a senior leader, at Matallat al-Markeb village near the borders with Syria.
Earlier on Friday, the media outlet said mobilization forces recaptured one village near the borders.
Coincidently with government troops’ operations in Mosul, army warplanes have been backing PMU operations against IS holdouts near the Syrian borders, most notably at the Qairawan and Baaj regions. Mobilization commanders had said thei recaptured Qairawan and continue currently to clear Baaj, recently announcing they reached the borderline and revealing plans to hand over security at that region to Iraqi police forces.
Speculations have emerged that the Iran-trained mobilization forces could seek to link up with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is also fighting an Islamic State insurgency, by crossing the borders into Syria. Mobilization officials have, however, assured they would not take the step without an Iraqi legislature decision.
Iraqi forces have been approaching IS’s last entrenchment in western Mosul in the Old City since earlier late April. Operations to recapture western Mosul launched on February 19th. Eastern Mosul was liberated in January.