Iraqi Woman Guides Militia in Shirqat Liberation

Iraqi forces tighten noose on ISIS stronghold in Mosul

An Iraqi military convoy prepares to enter Shirqat, Iraq / AP
September 23, 2016

The face history may remember in the war against ISIS is that of a black-clad matron in her fifties holding the bloody head of a terrorist in the streets of Al-Shirqat.

Waheda Mohammad Al-Jumaily, a former resident of this Iraqi city of 120,000, was praised Thursday morning for leading a 50-man unit of informal fighters, known as a Popular Mobilization Force or PMF, into the Shirqat city center and seizing control of the municipality from ISIS terrorists, according to the Iraqi newspapers Al Sabah Daily and Al Mada.

Lt. Gen. Riyadh Jalal, an Iraqi Army Commander, said in an interview Thursday that "the second phase of the liberation of Shirqat began today through the liberation of 10 villages from the control of Daesh" and resulted in a speedy takeover. Jalal praised the leadership of Al-Jumaily, also known as "Um Hanadi," for her role guiding the militia into the heart of Shirqat. He said Al-Jumaily was leading a special PMF of tribal fighters.

Al-Jumaily had lost her husband, four brothers, and a son-in-law to ISIS, according to the Arabic report in Al Sabah.

Waheda Mohammad Al-Jumaily in Shirqat Iraq / Courtesy of
Waheda Mohammad Al-Jumaily in Shirqat Iraq / Courtesy of

The mother of two daughters told Al Sabah she was needed to help the PMF find alternative routes into the city.

"We are fighting like a family," she told reporters, who noted that she is credited with killing I8 ISIS terrorists herself, although this has not been independently confirmed.

Al-Jumaily fled the city with one of her daughters after the terrorists invaded Shirqat in July 2014. Her other daughter and husband were trapped in the city. The son-in-law was tortured, with hands and feet amputated, before his execution, according to her testimony to Al Sabah.

The combined forces of the Iraqi army and PMF captured the whole city in just three days, far faster than the three-week struggle for Fallujah in May that destroyed the city’s housing stock. More than 85,000 civilians in Fallujah streamed out of the city in the last days of the battle, and many were gunned down by the terrorists as they left. Hundreds lacked shelter or food. By contrast, Iraqi forces urged residents of Shirqat to shelter in place. Iraqi security forces had surrounded the city five months ago, and since then ISIS fighters administered a reign of terror, torturing or executing residents attempting to flee.

Iraqi forces began the armored assault on Shirqat on Tuesday morning, advancing from three sides to destroy 6 vehicle bombs, an armored vehicle, and a hideout, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense website. Coalition aircraft rained missiles on ISIS for two days, killing 21 terrorists and destroying vehicle bombs and two vehicles, according to Daesh Daily, a digest of war news.

The Iraqi forces temporarily halted their operation in Shirqat on Tuesday evening in order to remove IEDs, Daesh Daily reported. A local observer said Iraqi forces cut ISIS lines between Shirqat and the Ninewa Province and secured scores of families from the liberated areas.

Around 130 ISIS members fled to Mosul after abandoning their positions around Shirqat within hours of the assault, a local source said. The source told Daesh Daily that those who fled included foreign nationals and ISIS commanders who fled with their families.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the spokesperson for the Iraqi military’s joint operations command, reportedly said in a statement broadcast on state television that the district had been liberated from the "desecration of terrorism."

The liberation of Shirqat, a strategic city on the Tigris River 70 miles south of Mosul and 190 miles north of Baghdad, clears the way for coalition forces to bring troops and vehicles directly to Qayara airfield, only 40 miles south of Mosul. Iraqi troops are simultaneously fighting to liberate the neighboring city of Hawija, 33 miles southwest of Kirkuk. Hawija, a Sunni tribal hub that harbored al Qaeda in Iraq in earlier years and ISIS since 2014, is the last ISIS stronghold south of Mosul.

Iraqi military authorities announced on Tuesday that a military campaign to liberate Mosul will start in mid-October.

Published under: Iraq , ISIS