Iraq’s Shia militia groups say they have launched an attack against Islamic State militants west of Mosul, as the offensive to retake the city continues.

The Hashid Shaabi groups say their aim is to oust IS from the town of Tal Afar, cutting jihadist supply routes to Mosul from Syria.

Tal Afar had sizeable Shia community before IS overran it in 2014. Mosul is a Sunni city, and the Shia militias have pledged not to enter it.

Iraq began the offensive last week.

Iraqi, Kurdish and allied forces, backed by US air power, have advanced in their push to retake Mosul, IS’s de facto capital in Iraq.

“The operation aims to cut supplies between Mosul and Raqqa (IS’s de facto capital in Syria) and tighten the siege… in Mosul and liberate Tal Afar,” Hashid Shaabi spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told the AFP news agency.

He added that the operation was launched from an area south of Mosul.

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