UPDATED: airstrike destroys IS convoy, group sets fugitive leader’s house on fire in Hawija

Troops of the Islamic State group. File photo.

Hawija ( Iraqi army warplanes destroyed Sunday a convoy of Islamic State vehicles that were leaving Hawija, Kirkuk, towards western desert areas, according to security sources.

Waradana news website quoted the sources saying all on board of the five vehicles were killed in the airstrike.

Meanwhile, Alsumaria News quoted local sources saying that IS members set fire to the house of a fugitive finance official with the group and arrested his family members. The escaped member fled two days earlier with amounts of money that were supposed to be paid as salaries for fighters.

Recent reports have quoted local sources saying IS leaderships were ordering fighters to evacuate to Mutaibija desert region, an area on the borders between Salahuddin and Diyala provinces. Alsumaria News said Saturday that IS arrested 13 of its members for refusing to comply with the evacuation.

Hawija and other neighboring areas in southwest Kirkuk have been under Islamic State control since 2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. The group executed dozens of civilians and security members there, forcing thousands to flee homes.

Hawija, Kirkuk (google maps)

Local tribal leaders and politicians from Kirkuk have recently mounted pressure on the Iraqi government to hasten with invading Hawija, suggesting that its people were experiencing a humanitarian crisis under the group’s rule. The Iraqi government is currently employing the largest portion of its military effort in Mosul, IS’s capital in Iraq where Iraqi commanders said recently they became in control over nearly 90 percent of territory since operations launched to retake the city in October.

Three weeks ago, Alsumaria News quoted sources saying that IS had opened alternative headquarters for its so-called “Nineveh State, “Dijlah State”, “Salahuddin State” and “Diyala State” in Hawija. He said senior leaders had entered the town in armored vehicles after having fled battles with security forces in Nineveh.

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