Hawija (IraqiNews.com) Fires caught at an Islamic State arms depot in the group’s stronghold in southwestern Hawija, said a local source on Thursday.
Unknown perpetrators set fire to the facility in central Hawija, causing blasts, the source told Almaalomah news website, adding that it had contained weapons and maps belonging to the militants who tried to put the fire out in vain.
On Wednesday, the Joint Operations Command, which has spearheaded the campaign against Islamic State in Iraq since 2014, said it would move to recapturing Hawija, which IS has held since they proclaimed a “Caliphate” rule in Iraq.
Local tribal leaders and politicians from Kirkuk have mounted pressure on the Iraqi government to hasten with invading Hawija, the group’s largest stronghold in the southwest of the province, suggesting that its people were experiencing a humanitarian crisis under the group’s rule as the group continues to massacre civilians attempting to flee the town.
On Wednesday, Alsumaria News quoted a source saying that Islamic State’s assigned ruler for Hawija suggested to negotiate a safe exit for the militants, to which some fighters reportedly gave up arms and left their positions in protest.
“One leader of the so-called mujahideen advisory council in Kirkuk vehemently voiced opposition to the suggestion and deemed it an action of treason, revealing intentions to oust the incumbent leader of Hawija,” according to the source.