Iraqi-Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani announced his support of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and “requested that all weapons come under government’s control.”
Islamic State forces still control a small pocket of villages to the north and east of the town, but are now surrounded.
The Iraqi government launched a new offensive against the Islamic State in the Hawijah pocket earlier today. Hawijah is considered one of the group’s two remaining strongholds inside Iraq. The other is in the western Anbar province, where the Iraqi government began new operations on Sept. 19.
The Iraqi government announced the liberation of Tal Afar in northern Iraq earlier today. The offensive to retake the city began on Aug. 20 and progressed quickly. Three Iraqi army divisions, the Counterterrorism Service, Federal Police, the Popular Mobilization Forces and Kurdish Regional Government Peshmerga all took part and were backed by the US-led coalition.
At a July 10 ceremony commemorating a Revolutionary Guard commander recently slain in Iraq, Major General Qassem Soleimani hailed victory in Mosul against the Islamic State. Addressing the crowd with the flags of the Islamic Republic, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestine and Iraq draped behind him, the Qods Force chief praised Iraqi actors, as well as Iran’s material and combat support to Iraq during the war.
On July 3, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Qods Force, spoke at an Iran-Iraq war veterans gathering in his home province of Kerman.
Soleimani praised the Islamic Republic’s decades-long effort to take the mantle of the Palestinian cause and boasted that Tehran’s influence in the Middle East has expanded as a result of the Syrian war. He excoriated Saudi Arabia, as well as domestic Iranian critics of the Guard Corps. And the general also lamented the drop in religious observance in Iran.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced that two men, Ali Kourani and Samer El Debek, had been arrested and charged with carrying out various missions on behalf of Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization. The IJO serves as Hizballah’s external operations wing, carrying out clandestine missions on behalf of Iran around the world. The complaints allege that Kourani and El Debek were both members of the IJO, which is ultimately controlled by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who in turn reports “directly” to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al Abadi arrived in Tehran today to met with senior Iranian government officials, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) is an “important and blessed phenomenon,” Khamenei said. “The reason the Americans oppose the popular forces is because they want Iraq to lose its important factor of strength,” he added.