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Military media : Iraqi forces retake 28 villages near Hawija

 Military media : Iraqi forces retake 28 villages near Hawija

A tank of Iraqi army fires against Islamic State militants at Al Jazeera neighbourhood of Tal Afar, Iraq, August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

A tank of Iraqi army fires against Islamic State militants at Al Jazeera neighbourhood of Tal Afar, Iraq, August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Hawija (IraqiNews.com)  Iraqi forces and allied paramilitary troops have retaken 28 villages as part of operations to clear the southwestern Kirkuk town of Hawija from militants, military media said Sunday.

The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell, quoting the Joint Operations Command, said forces advancing from the south and the east of the city have converged.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and military commanders declared on Friday the launch of a second phase of offensives to retake the town held by IS since 2014, saying that hundreds of militants were killed on the first few days of the offensive.

The first phase of operations ended a week ago.

So far, operations targeting Hawija managed to retake the town of Shirqat, an IS stronghold in neighboring Salahuddin, and dozens of surrounding villages.

Parallel operations were launched late September targeting IS havens in western Anbar.

A wide-scale campaign launched with the backing of a U.S.-led coalition in 2016 to recapture areas occupied by IS since 2014, when the militants declared a self-styled “caliphate” rule in Iraq and neighboring Syria based in Iraq’s Mosul.

Iraqi government, coalition and paramilitary forces recaptured Mosul, the group’s former capital, and the neighboring town of Tal Afar early July and late August.

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