Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s military command denied Tuesday claims made in an Israeli report which suggested that the Kirkuk town of Hawija, a major Islamic State bastion, was recaptured based on a deal with the militants.
“Iraqi troops had not, and will never, strike a deal with Daesh (IS), neither in Hawija nor anywhere else,” said Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Joint Operations Command. “There had been a ferocious fighting, hundreds of IS were killed, and hundreds of explosive devices were defused…what deal are you talking about?,” he said labelling the allegations “very funny”.
Israeli website Debka said in a report published Tuesday that Iraqis liberated Hawija “without firing a shot”.
“Our sources reveal that, instead of launching this offensive, Iraqi army commanders negotiated a deal with the jihadists through the mediation of local Arab tribes,” read the report. “They granted safe passage for the occupiers and their families to withdraw from Hawija, in return for a commitment not to resist the Iraqi army’s takeover of the town. Iraqi troops indeed secured a corridor for their exit, after which the Islamic fighters headed for Diyala in eastern Iraq near the Iranian border.”
Rasoul said a press conference is slated for Thursday on Hawija operations, delineating the troops that had partaken in the offensive, and losses on militants behalf.
JOC declared the start of Hawija offensives late September, and declared the fall of the major IS enclave last Thursday.
Iraq launched a U.S.-backed campaign in 2016 to recapture IS-held areas, militants are currently cornered on the borders with Syria, according to the governmnt.