Hawija (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s military command said Sunday it completed a first phase of operations to recapture Islamic State’s last holdout in Kirkuk.
The Joint Operations Command’s field commander, Abdul-Amir Yarallah, said government forces, backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces, completed a first stage of operations recapture the town of Hawija, which launched last Thursday, taking over al-Zab river region, the northern part of Makhoul mountains and several villages west of Tigris River.
So far, operations managed to retake the town of Shirqat, an IS stronghold in neighboring Salahuddin, and dozens of surrounding villages.
Parallel operations were launched last week targeting IS havens in western Anbar.
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 and the neighboring town of Tal Afar early July and late August.
Commanders say more than 200 militants have been killed in the current operations.