Iraqi units take Baaj town west of Mosul from Islamic State

Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fire towards Islamic State militants during a battle in Qairawan, west of Mosul, Iraq May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have captured the Iraqi town of Baaj from Islamic State (IS), further shrinking the northern region under jihadist control as part of a US-backed campaign to retake the city of Mosul, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.

Eight months into the Mosul offensive, IS fighters have been dislodged from all of the city except an enclave along the western bank of the Tigris river.

IS’s grip on the Iraqi side of the northern region along the border with Syria, a desert area where Iraqi and US sources believe IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding, has been ebbing as forces fighting on the side of Iraq’s government have advanced.

The Iraqi air force provided cover for the thrust into Baaj of the PMU, said a statement from the Iraqi joint operations command.