Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi joint troops have managed to gain more areas within first phase of operations launched to recapture Islamic State’s holdout in southwest of Kirkuk.
In a statement on Friday, Lt.Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, deputy commander of the Joint Operations, said the ninth armored division as well as the 11th and 12th brigades of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) freed 19 villages in the western side of Shirqat, located west of Hawija.
“Troops completed the second part of the first phase of Hawija offensive, southwest of Kirkuk,” Rashid added.
Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
In another statement, Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat, chief of Federal Police, said, “troops regained control on 60 percent of the total area of western Shirqat, liberating 30 villages.”
On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat.
Iraqi government and paramilitary forces recaptured several villages on Thursday as the government launched a wide-scale, final operation to retake all of Islamic State’s remaining havens in Kirkuk and Salahuddin.