Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State has set oil wells in southwest of Kirkuk on fire to hinder advance of security troops, hours after the launch of offensives to liberate the group’s holdout in the province.
A statement by the media service of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) said “the militant group set two oil wells in Allas oilfield, south of Hawija to hinder advance of troops.”
Another statement by PMFs, earlier today, said the group urged its militants to evacuate villages in north of Hawija toward Abbassi, after injury of its military official in Abbassi, located northwest of Hawija.
Early on Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Joint Operations Command announced beginning of the second phase of Hawija offensive.
On Sunday, the Joint Operations Command announced completing the first phase of operations to recapture Hawija, which launched on September 21. According to Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell, 557 IS militants were killed, while more than 100 villages and regions were liberated during the first phase.
Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said previously that the number of Islamic State members in Hawija falls between 800 and 1500.
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.