Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) An Islamic State convoy escaping southwestern Kirkuk toward east of Salahuddin province has been targeted in aerial shelling, a local source was quoted saying.
Speaking to AlSumaria News, the source said, “heavy shelling targeted on Thursday an IS convoy composed of several vehicles escaping Hawija, Kirkuk, toward Mutaibija in Salahuddin.”
The source, who asked to be anonymous, expected losses inflicted on the enemy.
Occasional attacks have been witnessed in Mutaibija by IS against government and paramilitary troops deployments since Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and PMUs, launched a major offensive to retake IS-held areas.
Earlier on the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Lt.Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command announced launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat. Several villages in Shirqat have been retaken.
The Iraqi army said in September its forces recaptured the western coast of Shirqat, located south of Mosul, on the west bank of the Tigris river, after being surrounded for months by Iraqi troops and the pro-government Shi’ite militias. The eastern coast of Shirqat, is still under the IS control.
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.