Kirkuk: Hawija refugees at 11.000, repatriation begins soon

Families fleeing ISIS-held city of Hawija.

Kirkuk ( Battles between Islamic State militants and Iraqi security forces in Hawija have displaced 11.000 civilians, officials in Kirkuk province were quoted saying late Thursday, hours after Iraqi forces claimed the recapture of the major IS haven.

Ammar Sabah, head of Kirkuk’s migration department, was quoted by Mawazin News saying that while 2000 of those were transferred to shelters in Daqouq, an area of Kirkuk, the remaining 9000 were transferred outside.

Sabah said the repatriation of refugees to recaptured areas in Hawija is slated to begin next week.

Number of civilians displaced since Iraqi troops launched offensives to restore Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk, reached 9,000 persons, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement said earlier on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the United Nations said an estimated 12,500 civilians have fled their homes in Hawija since the start of the Iraqi operation on September 21, and nearly 78,000 people could still be trapped in their homes. 

Iraq’s U.S.-backed war against the Islamic state has displaced nearly three million people since the group emerged in 2014.

Joint Operations Command’s top general, Abdul-Amir Yarallah, said Thursday that army, Federal Police, Rapid Response Forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces announced took over Hawija, nearly two weeks after the launch of operations. Federal Police said 270 militants had been killed.

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