The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces today seized more territory from the Islamic State in western Mosul near the Syrian border, the Iranian media reports. After heavy clashes with Islamic State militants south of the al-Ba’aj region, the paramilitary forces reportedly captured the village of al-Khibra and the nearby al-Sakaar housing complex. According to Fars News Agency, a mouthpiece of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.), the P.M.F. leadership has announced that the paramilitary force would soon start operations to secure Iraq’s entire border with Syria in order to cut off the Islamic State’s supply and communication lines to and from Syria. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the P.M.F.’s operational commander who has close relations with Iran and is designated as a terrorist by the United States, said the forces would hand over the border region to the Syrian and Iraqi border guards once retaken from the Islamic State.

Comment: Iran-supported Iraqi groups earlier this week managed to seize several regions from the Islamic State in western Mosul and reach the Syrian border. According to the Iranian media, they continue to bring more border regions under their control in order to link up with the Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militias on the other side of the border. On May 30, the Iraqi Badr Organization, a powerful P.M.F. unit with close ties to Tehran, said that its forces controlled 17 kilometers along the Iraqi-Syrian border. P.M.F. commanders also claim that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has put the paramilitary forces in charge of the border security.

Controlling the Syrian-Iraqi border is a strategic prize for Tehran. It will allow the I.R.G.C. to deploy forces and weapons into Syria. Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of I.R.G.C. Quds Force, was reportedly pictured with P.M.F. forces at a border site in northwest Iraq  soon after P.M.F. units reached the area.