Kirkuk (Iraqinews.com) – Eleven Islamic State members were killed Monday in a military operation in Hawija district, 55 km south west of Kirkuk, a security source was quoted as saying.
“Federal police launched an operation to track down Islamic State sleeper cells in al-Zab town, 30 km west of Hawija, killing 11 IS militants,” the source told Kuwait’s al-Watan daily paper.
“The terrorists were hiding inside valleys leading to al-Zab River,” the source said, adding that the troops seized many medium and light arms at the scene.
In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country.
The town had fallen to IS in June 2014, when the militant group seized control of much of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed the creation of a self-styled “caliphate”.
There, Islamic State’s reign forced thousands to flee to refugee camps, while hundreds had been executed by the group for attempting to escape the area or contacting security forces.
The offensive on Hawija began on 21 September and has involved army, police and special forces units, as well as the Shia-led paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces.
Despite the victory over IS there in the city, observers say IS is believed to constitute a security threat even after the group’s defeat at its main havens across Iraqi provinces.