Displaced Iraqi women and children sit near Kurdish Peshmerga fighters after escaping from the Islamic State-controlled village of Abu Jarboa. (Photo Reuters)
Shia forces in Iraq aim to cut off the western supply route used by Islamic State group out of Mosul on Thursday, the leader of the largest militia told Iraqi television.
"Today, God willing, is the completion of the first stage of the Hashid (Popular Mobilisation) operations - that is cutting the supply route of the enemy between Tal Afar and the Muhalabiya district, reaching to Mosul," Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organisation said.
Badr is the largest militia in the Popular Mobilisation umbrella group of Shia forces.
Amiri said the militias also intended ultimately to cut off the main highway between Mosul and Tal Afar, but said that the Muhalabiya route was the priority because it was the one used by the militants since they took over Mosul two years ago.
"This is the area Daesh (Islamic State group) entered Mosul from," he said.
"Severing this road means to completely cut off the enemy's supply lines and surround them."
Tal Afar lies about 55 km (35 miles) west of Mosul, on the way to Islamic State-controlled regions of neighbouring Syria.
Cutting off the western side of the city will leave Islamic State group enclosed on four axes.
The army, security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces have been advancing from the south, east and north of Mosul since launching an offensive to recapture the city on Oct. 17.
They were joined five days ago by the Popular Mobilisation forces, which launched their offensive towards Tal Afar on Mosul's western flank.