Over 100,000 civilians flee Hawija: Observatory

Iraqi citizens fleeing Islamic State-held town of Hawija, Kirkuk

Baghdad ( The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights has estimated number of displaced civilians from Hawija at 101,000 between August 2016 to September 2017.

In a statement on Monday, the observatory said, “most of the displaced civilians from Hawija headed to the villages in its vicinity or to Kirkuk.”

The residents, according to the statement, “fled due to violations committed by IS, in addition to U.S.-led Coalition’s airstrikes targeting the group’s headquarters located in the residential areas.”

“More than 1,700 families from Hawija are there in Daquq camp in Kirkuk, where most of the residents fleeing IS are sheltered alongside displaced people from Baaj and some regions in Nineveh,” the observatory said.

Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have 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.

Earlier this month, news reports said 100,000 civilians are besieged in Hawija by the militant group, that could use them as human shields during the battle.

Further reinforcements from the Federal Police were sent earlier this month from Baghdad to the town, as the military command declared last week, the end of operations in Tal Afar, the militants’ last haven west of Nineveh, and the approach of the launch of offensives for Hawija.

The United Nations had predicted at least 114.000 civilians to flee Hawija as the battle starts.

Spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command Yehia Rasool said, last week, there were 2000 IS militants inside Hawija.

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