Militants of the Hashd al-Shaabi wave the victory sign onboard a pickup truck, on their way to Tal Afar airport. AFP photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shiite and Kurdish forces have reportedly reached an agreement on mutual movements in future operations against ISIS in the Tal Afar and Shingal area though Sunni civilians fear sectarian violence from the Hashd al-Shaabi.
The move comes as Hadi Amiri, leader of the paramilitary, declared the Mosul-Tal Afar road cut as his forces took control of a portion of the route on Wednesday and linked up with Kurdish Peshmerga forces based in the Yezidi town of Shingal.
Amiri came to Shingal “in order to coordinate with us," Reuters quoted Mahma Xelil, the mayor of Shingal, as saying.
Thousands of civilians, mostly Sunnis, have fled the ISIS-held Sunni Turkmen town of Tal Afar west of Mosul as Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces continue to close in on the town
Civilians are fleeing Tal Afar in large numbers as they “fear Hashd al-Shaabi will take revenge on them” for alleged links to ISIS, a former Iraqi MP, Nabil Harbo, told Rudaw.
Some 3,000 to 4,000 Tal Afar residents have abandoned their homes, Rudaw has learned. Some of them have sought refuge in Peshmerga-controlled areas and others fled to Syria in the wake of Shiite forces' advance on the town.
An official from Nineveh Provincial Council, Nuraldin Qablan, voiced concerns for the civilians and urged the Kurdistan Region to open a "safe corridor" for the families to reach the region’s camps for those displaced from Mosul.
Many fear revenge attacks on Sunni people by the Hashd force for the grievances Shiites have endured at ISIS’ hands.
"We fear bad things may happen in Tal Afar if Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen enter the city,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Arshad al-Salihi of the Iraqi Turkmen Front saying on Thursday.
However, Karim Nouri, a spokesperson for the Hashd told Rudaw that they “will not enter the town but pave the way for the Iraqi army, Shiite and Sunni tribal forces to liberate their town.”