A spokesman for the Iraqi government-sanctioned paramilitary force says the troops are moving to capture a key town beyond the city of Mosul, near the Syrian border.
Shiite lawmaker, Karim al-Nouri, says the mainly Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces seeks to drive Islamic State militants out of the center of strategic Baaj, west of Mosul near the border with Syria.
Al-Nouri told The Associated Press on Monday that many of the surrounding villages have already been taken from IS.
He says once Baaj falls, the fight with IS will move to the Syrian border. He didn't elaborate.
The Iran-backed paramilitary force— known as Hashed al-Shaabi in Arabic — has largely operated since October in the desert to the west of Mosul, trying to cut IS supply lines.