DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:00 P.M.) – On Tuesday, Amaq Agency released a handful of gruesome images depicting a gruesome Islamic State summary execution of three captured members of the pro-government Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).
The incident took place in the contested town of Qaryat Imam Gharbi, based on the western bank of the Tigris River in Harare province, and saw Islamic State insurgents shoot dead PMU prisoner of war at point-blank range in broad daylight:
ISIS overran Qaryat Imam Gharbi (otherwise liberated in August 2016) last week in what appeared to be a direct assault on the Iraqi Army’s supply line to Mosul. Subsequently, PMU and Iraqi soldiers launched a counter-assault, retaking some 40% of the strategic town.
With around 100 ISIS-held villages and towns surrounded in the Hawija region, jihadist commanders hope to thrust west and link up with the Islamic State mainland in western Iraq.
On the other hand, with Mosul finally announced fully liberated on Monday, this frees up nearly 100,000 government soldiers for military campaigns elsewhere in the countryside. In effect, the Iraqi Army can now deploy its 9th Division, 15th Division, 16th Division, Rapid Response Division, Iraqi Federal Police and Counter Terrorism Units for coming offensives.
The next major targets are expected to be the ISIS-held Tal Afar and Hawija pockets.