Hawija (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi forces moved Monday towards another area neighboring Hawija, Islamic State’s bastion in southwestern Kirkuk, military media reported as offensives continue against the group’s last few holdouts in the country.
The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Shia-led paramilitary force operating under the prime minsiter’s command, advanced towards al-Rashad as part of the second phase of operations to liberate Hawija, which launched Friday.
The first phase of operations launched on September 24th, and managed to retake eastern Shirqat, an Islamic State haven in neighboring Salahuddin province.
Parallel operations were launched late September targeting IS havens in western Anbar.
On Sunday, military media said joint forces recaptured 28 villages around Hawija with a few hundreds of militants killed since the launch of operations.
A wide-scale campaign launched with the backing of a U.S.-led coalition in 2016 to recapture areas occupied by IS since 2014, when the militants declared a self-styled “caliphate” rule in Iraq and neighboring Syria based in Iraq’s Mosul.
Iraqi government, coalition and paramilitary forces recaptured Mosul, the group’s former capital, and the neighboring town of Tal Afar early July and late August.