NEW VIDEO: Celebrations in Iraq’s Shirqat after Liberation from Islamic State

Thu Sep 22, 2016 20:32:59

Residents of villages near the northern Iraqi town of Shirqat celebrated their liberation from Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) control on Thursday (September 22).

Waving white banners and firing celebratory gunfire into air, the jubilant residents of the villages of Al-Hisswiya and al-Mukhayam greeted the advancing Shia militia, known as the Hashid Shaabi force, as the fighters advanced on Shirqat.

Al-Hisswiya and al-Mukhayam lie 5km (3miles) south west of the town Centre of Shirqat.

The capturing of Shirqat from Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) control is part of a military operation launched on Tuesday (September 20) which is seen as a stepping stone in the campaign to recapture the terrorists' stronghold of Mosul.

Shirqat town lies on the river Tigris, 100 km (62 miles) south of Mosul, and had been surrounded by Iraqi troops and Shia Muslim militias allied to the government but so far the militias have not participated in the operation.

The town's proximity to Iraqi supply lines reaching Qayyara airbase further north, which will be used as a logistics hub for the push on Mosul, lends it strategic importance.

Tens of thousands of civilians are thought to have been trapped in Shirqat and its surrounding villages, which have been under Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) control since the group seized a third of Iraqi territory in 2014.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have said the push on Mosul could begin in October, though there are concerns that not enough planning has been done for how to manage Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, if and when Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) is expelled. Hawija, east of Shirqat, is the other remaining Islamic State bastion south of Mosul.

The group also controls the city of Tel Afar, west of Mosul towards the Syrian border.

S/SH 11

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