Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants suddenly evacuated checkpoints in southwest of Kirkuk, a local source from the province said on Sunday.
“Tens of IS fighters collectively evacuated several checkpoints in Hawija, southwestern Kirkuk, under mysterious circumstances,” the source told Alghad Press.
The militants, according to the source, “withdrew from sprawling regions on borders with Salahuddin province located near to oilfields.” The reasons behind the evacuation are unknown.
In related news, two huge blasts were heard in the town, a local source from the province said, adding that one of them targeted an IS convoy.
“The blasts resulted from airstrikes, one of them targeted an IS armed convoy,” the source told AlSumaria News indicating news on casualties.
The militant group, according to the source, who preferred anonymity, “has been on high alert in Hawija.”
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. The group executed dozens of civilians and security members there, forcing thousands to flee homes.
On Saturday, further reinforcements from the Federal Police were sent from Baghdad to the town, as the military command declared last week, the end of operations in Tal Afar, the militants’ last haven west of Nineveh, and the approach of the launch of offensives for Hawija.
On Thursday, Iraqi army planes airdropped millions of messages on Hawija telling them that operations to recapture the stronghold were nearing, according to the War Media Cell.