Iraqi Shiite militia strongman and Imam Ali Brigades commander, Abu Azrael, was spotted alongside the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) as they make their way through the western axis of Mosul toward Tal Afar. The PMF is attempting to prevent the Islamic State’s escape to Syria through Tal Afar, which is 33 miles west of Mosul.
Abu Azrael gained fame on social media carrying an ax and sword, and mutilating the corpse of a suspected Islamic State “like shwarma” after he was burned alive.
Abu Azrael was recently photographed with Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the PMF operational commander who was designated by the US Treasury in 2009 as a terrorist and deputy to Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) . Both Muhandis and Abu Azrael are close to IRGC-QF. Abu Azrael was in Mashhad, Iran, in July and met with IRGC Basij paramilitary chief Mohammad Naghdi.