Iraqi forces were about to cut off the western supply route used by Daesh out of Mosul on Thursday, with the leader of the Takfiri group urging his terrorists to fight on.
Hadi al-Ameri, the commander of Iraq's largest volunteer forces, said his fighters were completing the first stage of their operations as army, security forces and Kurdish forces solidified their positions in the south, east and north.
"Today, God willing, is the completion of the first stage of the Hashd operations - that is cutting the supply route of the enemy between Tal Afar and the Muhalabiya district, reaching to Mosul," he said.
Ameri's Badr Organisation is the largest militia in the Hashd al-Shaab umbrella group of Iraqi volunteers, comprised of Shia and Sunni fighters.
Hashd forces joined the army's push to retake Mosul five days ago, launching their offensive towards Tal Afar on the second Iraqi city's western flank.
Tal Afar lies about 55 km west of Mosul, on the way to Daesh-controlled regions of neighboring Syria. Cutting off the western side of the city will leave the Takfiri group enclosed on four directions.
"This is the area Daesh entered Mosul from," Ameri said. "Severing this road means to completely cut off the enemy's supply lines and surround them."
Ibrahim al-Samarrai, who goes by his nom de guerre as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urged his Daesh terrorists to fight on.
“Do not retreat … Holding your ground with honor is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame,” he said in an unverified audio recording released on the Internet by his supporters.
The Daesh leader was reportedly hiding in Mosul, when the operations to liberate the city began last month, and is now trapped in the besieged city.
In the 30-minute message, Baghdadi also called for attacks in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Mosul fell in 2014 when the terror group launched a lightning attack caught troops by surprise and declared the city as its headquarters in Iraq.
Iraqi government forces entered the outskirts of Mosul on Tuesday for the first time in more than two years and began combing the streets for any remaining terrorists before they press on into the heart of the city.
New reports on Thursday said the Takfiri group had begun blowing up government buildings in Mosul.
Atheel Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, said that Daesh militants and their families were leaving the city in droves and heading to Syria.
Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, the commander of Iraq's counter-terrorism forces, called on the residents of Mosul to remain indoors.
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