Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi police forces purged on Tuesday 14 villages in Kirkuk’s Hawija district from Islamic State militants.
Iraqi website Baghdad News quoted federal police chief Raed Shawkat as announcing that 14 villages in Hawija have been completely liberated from Islamic State remnants.
“The troops also seized a terrorist hotbed of Islamic State in northern Hawija, in addition to a tunnel filled with explosive charges,” Shawkat added.
Islamic State militants had blown up an electricity pylon in Hawija district on Monday, causing power outage in the former IS bastion.
“A group of IS militants placed explosives under an electricity pylon in al-Siha village in Hawija, causing it to collapse,” a security source told Ayn Al Iraq News website. “The explosion left Hawija district in complete darkness,” the source added.
Last year, 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 September 21 and involved army, police and special forces units, as well as the Shia-led paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces.