Monday, November 14, 2016

Iraqi Shi'ite forces and the airbase at Tal Afar

BAGHDAD, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A coalition of mainly Shi'ite Iraqi militias advancing on the Islamic State-held town of Tal Afar plans to seize a nearby military air base from the jihadists, the first time the Iran-backed forces have targeted such a base, militia officials said on Tuesday.
The Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary forces are deployed in the arid region west of Mosul as part of a wider military campaign to retake the largest city under Islamic State control in Iraq or neighbouring Syria.
The town of Tal Afar, and its air base, are located on the highway west of Mosul. Capturing them would help cut Islamic State supply lines between Mosul and its Syrian territories, and offer a base for the Hashid's stated plan ultimately to take their battle with Islamic State into Syria....
"Now we are 25 km (15 miles) from the Tal Afar air base," said Kareem Alewi, a commander of one of Hashid Shaabi brigades and a member of the Badr Organisation, the most powerful force within the paramilitary alliance.
"Tal Afar air base has strategic importance for us considering that it's on the Iraq-Syrian border, so it will be a general base for all factions of the Hashid Shaabi and it will be the launch pad for these forces to protect the Syrian-Iraqi borders," he told Reuters.
He said it would be the first military base controlled by the Hashid, who could take their fight across the frontier once Mosul is taken. "If Iraq is liberated, no doubt our second goal will be to pursue Daesh (Islamic State) inside Syria," he said....

bth: so this article is interesting in that it shwos the real objective of Badr Organization to be the air base near Tal Afar and not Tal Afar itself. This base would give Hashid Shaabi its first airbase and it would be a critical link for Iran to gain a land route from Iran through Baghdad to northern Syria and its oil fields.

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