The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) have seized eight villages from the Islamic State in western Mosul, the reports. According to Iraqi officials, the paramilitary forces have also launched operations in northern Ba’aj and have secured the control of the main road linking al-Adaniyah district and the two of al-Ba’aj. According to a P.M.F. statement, the paramilitary forces have seized already seized captured several villages – including Kojou and Tel Ghazi – in the Ba’aj, which is located in western Mosul to the south of Sinjar.
Comment: The P.M.F.- an alliance of predominantly Shiite militia groups now integrated into the Iraqi security forces – has played a prominent role in military operations in western Mosul since the Mosul operation began last October. While the P.M.F. is a diverse group, Iraqi Sunnis are worried that the prominent role of Iran-backed P.M.F. units could further inflame sectarian tension in the region and trigger a dangerous proxy war between Iran and regional Sunni states – particularly Turkey – once the Islamic State is defeated. As Iran-supported Shiite P.M.F. groups are seizing more territory in western Mosul, the Iraqi Kurds in nearby Sinjar are also worried. Last week, the P.M.F. forces captured the Sahl Sinjar airbase, which is about 40 miles east of the Syrian border. , an I.R.G.C. mouthpiece, said the paramilitary forces have also seized control of in Qairawan and Sinjar regions in western Mosul. , an Iran-supported unit within the P.M.F., is reportedly playing a leading role in military operations against the Islamic State in Qairawan. The group, which functions under direct supervision of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, has recently threatened Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United States.