US

Shiite militias launch operation near Iraq's Mosul

  • FILE - In this May 27, 2015 photo, Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade militiamen prepare their armored vehicles for fighting against the Islamic State group in the front line after regaining control of eastern Husaybah town, 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of Ramadi, Iraq. State-sanctioned Shiite militias launched an assault on the Islamic State group west of the Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, but reiterated that they would not enter the Sunni majority city. Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said they launched an offensive Saturday along with other large militias toward the town of Tel Afar, which had a Shiite majority before it fell to IS in 2014. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - In this May 27, 2015 photo, Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade militiamen prepare their armored vehicles for fighting against the Islamic State group in the front line after regaining control of eastern Husaybah town, 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of Ramadi, Iraq. State-sanctioned Shiite militias launched an assault on the Islamic State group west of the Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, but reiterated that they would not enter the Sunni majority city. Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said they launched an offensive Saturday along with other large militias toward the town of Tel Afar, which had a Shiite majority before it fell to IS in 2014. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Civilians gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's western Iskan neighborhood, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed several people and wounded more than 20 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    Civilians gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's western Iskan neighborhood, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed several people and wounded more than 20 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)  (The Associated Press)

  • Civilians gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's western neighborhood, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed several people and wounded more than 20 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

    Civilians gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's western neighborhood, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed several people and wounded more than 20 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)  (The Associated Press)

State-sanctioned Shiite militias have launched an attack on the Islamic State group west of the Iraqi city of Mosul but reiterated that they would not enter the Sunni majority city.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said they launched an offensive Saturday along with other militias toward the town of Tel Afar, which had a Shiite majority before it fell to IS in 2014. He says Iranian forces are advising the fighters and Iraqi aircraft are providing airstrikes.

Iraq launched a massive operation to retake militant-held Mosul, its second largest city, last week. The involvement of the Shiite militias has raised concerns the battle could aggravate sectarian divisions.

Al-Husseini says the militias will focus on Tel Afar and on securing the western border with Syria.