Shi’ite militia seizes air base near Mosul, cutting ISIL supply route to Syria

Special to

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iraqi Shi’ite militia fighters say they have driven Islamic State extremists from an air base to the west of Mosul, threatening the supply route from Syria for extremist militants in the northern Iraqi city.

Shi'ite fighters near airport at Tal Afar on Nov. 16. / Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP
Shi’ite fighters near airport at Tal Afar on Nov. 16. / Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP

Yusif al-Kallabi, a spokesman for a coalition of mostly Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias called the Popular Mobilization Units, told Iraqi state TV on November 16 that the air base at the town of Tal Afar had been “liberated.”

If confirmed, the capture of the base would be a significant development in the campaign to recapture Mosul, the last major stronghold for IS militants in Iraq.

Tal Afar is about 60 kilometers west of Mosul on the main highway to Syria.

Iraqi government forces, police, and allied Sunni tribesman have advanced to the southern and northern outskirts of Mosul itself, backed by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to the north and northeast.

Meanwhile, Iraqi special forces are engaged in urban combat within the city’s easternmost district.

But IS militants have still had a logistical supply line to the west of Mosul stretching into Syria.