Hawija (IraqiNews.com) A prominent Islamic State leader was killed in airstrikes, launched by a drones, near Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk, a paramilitary official said.
“Drones shelled IS convoy near Hawija, killing several militants including a leader from the group’s so-called Kirkuk State who was in charge of the soldiers department,” Jabbar al-Maamouri, an official from the pro-government al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), told AlSumaria News on Monday.
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 on the day, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights issued a report estimating number of displaced civilians from Hawija at 101,000 between August 2016 to September 2017. Previously 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.