Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) gather on the outskirt of Bartila east of Mosul during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Reuters: Shi'ite militias say will support Iraqi army offensive on Mosul
A Shi'ite paramilitary force said it would support the Iraqi army's offensive on Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, raising the risk of sectarian strife in the mainly Sunni region.
The Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), a coalition of mostly Iranian-trained militias, said late on Tuesday it would back Iraqi government forces advancing toward Tal Afar, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) west of Mosul.
Taking Tal Afar would effectively cut off the escape route for militants wanting to head into neighboring Syria and would please the Iran-backed army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has accused the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition of planning to allow the jihadists such a safe passage.
But it could also hamper the escape of civilians from the area of Mosul, which is Iraq's second biggest city and where the militants are reportedly trying to use residents as human shields.
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WNU Editor: The involvement of Shiite militias in probably not a good idea concerning what they have done in the past .... Iraqis fleeing IS-held areas face torture, disappearance and death in revenge attacks (Amnesty International).