With the main coalition of Shi’ite militia forces in Iraq reiterating today that they intend to support the Iraqi government’s invasion of the city of Mosul, prompting a warning from Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, the commander of US troops in Iraq, that the US doesn’t support their involvement.
“The coalition only supports those elements that are under the command and control of the Iraqi security forces,” Volesky warned, noting that the group in question, the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) are not under such control, and that “we don’t support them.”
Invasion of Mosul itself is likely weeks away, and the PMF comments centered on offensives near Mosul, in particular the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul. Volesky refused to comment on this, however, insisting the US is exclusively focused on Mosul.
Tal Afar is along the main route between Mosul and ISIS-held eastern Syria, aiming to ensure that ISIS forces can’t flee from the major city when the invasion begins. By extension, this likely will further complicate allowing civilians to flee Mosul, since the Iraqi government, and its militias, have generally not allowed Sunni Arabs to flee into government-controlled territory.