Iraqi forces capture al-Baghdadi’s hideout near Syrian border

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Iraqi soldiers are pictured surveying the battle scene in Qayyarah District. File photo: AFP

ARA News

Commanders of the Shia majority paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) on Sunday announced the full liberation of the former hideout of the ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the Syrian border.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of the PMU, confirmed on Sunday the full liberation of the Ba’aj district.

“PMU Commandment has announced the liberation of al-Ba’aj district completely from Daesh on the 11th day of Muhammed Resool Allah 2 operation by special operation,” the PMU said in a statement.

“This special operation started today in the daybreak through 3 axis with coordination with the Iraqi aviation. The liberation happened when the 3 axis (north, northeast and south) met in the center of the district, then PMU raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings,” the PMU said.

The town of Ba’aj was the ‘secret capital’ of ISIS and was used by ISIS to launch an invasion on Mosul in June 2014. The town of Ba’aj is in a strategic area on the Iraq-Syrian border, and a conjunction point between Mosul, Anbar, and Salahadin through the desert.

In the operation the al-Ba’aj district was completely liberated, including the 12 villages of Qabr Hajir, al-Ajuz, Farkhu, al-Kae’an, Tal al-Nufali, Um al-Hijara, Tal al-Keri, Tal al-Misrij al-Faraj, Isdera, al-Jaberia, al-Sihrij and Sayhat al-Sagar villages.

At least 37 ISIS militants were killed, and 2 car bombs were detonated with the support of the Iraqi aviation on Sunday.

“PMU military engineering individuals have started demining al-Ba’aj district and the villages which have been liberated today after being mined by Daesh,” the PMU said, using an Arabisch acronym for ISIS.

The PMU also said they saved hundreds of displaced families after they escaped from the surrounding areas of al-Ba’aj district.

Moreover, PMU security directorate has evacuated hundreds of displaced families from the north of al-Ba’aj district ( al-Kan’an, Farkhu and al-Nufali villages) into the camps for displaced families after securing their transformation through the northern and southern axis.

“Hence, PMU security directorate with coordination with PMU medical department and logistic support institutes have given helps to the displaced families,” the PMU leadership said.

US-led coalition’s spokesman, Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, has praised the success of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the fight against ISIS in northern Iraq, despite of the disagreements between Iran and the US.

“I know that the Hashd Al-Shaabi, or, as we call them, the Popular Mobilization Units — they have, under the direction of the government of Iraq, been largely successful in their initial isolation phases of Mosul, to prevent ISIS fighters from getting into or coming out of Mosul — between Mosul and Tal Afar,” he said last week.

“They have since been able to conduct offensive operations around Tal Afar.  In the last week alone, they have been able to take more than 600 square kilometers of area back from ISIS, largely around Tal Afar, all the way out to the Syrian border,” Col. Dillon said.

“But the PMU are under the direction of the government of Iraq, and they’ve been largely successful in those types of — the responsibilities that have been given to them,” he stated.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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