Hawija (IraqiNews.com) Three Islamic State militants were killed while trying to escape in southwest of Kirkuk province, the pro-government Shiite paramilitary troops announced.
In a statement on Thursday, al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said, “troops of the 24th brigade noticed a path through which IS militants escape from Hawija town passing through Hamreen mountains.”
Three militants were killed, while others escaped toward the mountain chain, it added.
Earlier on the day, the Diyala Police Command said two IS rest houses were destroyed in Hamreen Mountains area.
Hawija, located 55 KM west of Kirkuk, has been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. The group executed dozens of civilians and security members there, forcing thousands to flee homes.
Dozens of residents from Hawija and the regions in its vicinity escape to Kirkuk province on a daily basis. Despite the risky routes to the freed regions, civilians prefer death to staying under IS control.
Iraqi forces are urged to prevent IS militants infiltration between Salahuddin and Kirkuk provinces, especially the regions stretching along Hamreen mountains and Al-Azeem town.
Few thousands of IS militants remain in other holdouts in Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk and Anbar.