Kirkuk (Iraqinews.com) – Four Islamic State militants were killed in a military operation in southwestern Kirkuk, a security source was quoted as saying.
Speaking to Alsumaria News on Sunday, the source said, “A joint force from the Iraqi army and al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) was carrying out a military operation in an area between Al-Abbasi and Hawija districts in southwestern Kirkuk.”
“Four Islamic State militants were killed in the clampdowns,” the source added.
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 Islamic State 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.
Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk in mid October in response to a referendum Kurdistan Region held in September for independence from Iraq. Kirkuk is one of the areas where Baghdad and Erbil dispute sovereignty.
Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.