Shi­ite mili­tias join push to en­cir­cle Mo­sul

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

State-sanc­tioned Shi­ite mili­tias joined Iraq’s Mo­sul of­fen­sive on Satur­day with a pre-dawn as­sault to the west, where they hope to com­plete the en­cir­clement of the Is­lamic State-held city and sever sup­ply lines from neigh­bor­ing Syria.

Other Iraqi forces aided by U.S.-led airstrikes mean­while drove IS from the town of Shura, south of Mo­sul, where the mil­i­tants had rounded up civil­ians to be used as human shields.

The twin thrusts come nearly two weeks into the of­fen­sive to re­take Iraq’s sec­ond largest city, but most of the fight­ing is still tak­ing place far from its out­skirts, and the en­tire op­er­a­tion is ex­pected to take weeks.

The in­volve­ment of the Ira­nian-backed Shi­ite mili­tias has raised con­cerns that the bat­tle for Mo­sul, a Sunni-ma­jor­ity city, could ag­gra­vate sec­tar­ian ten­sions. Rights groups have ac­cused the mili­tias of abuses against civil­ians in other Sunni ar­eas re­taken from IS, ac­cu­sa­tions the mili­tia lead­ers deny.

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