Over 400 Iraqis Arrive In Kirkuk After Fleeing Isis In Hawija

Over 400 Iraqis Arrive In Kirkuk After Fleeing Isis In Hawija

 More than 400 displaced Iraqis have arrived in Kirkuk after escaping Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Hawija, the Directorate of Migration and Displacement said on Monday (December 12).

Director of Migration and Displacement in Kirkuk, Amar Sabah, said that the directorate’s team, in cooperation with Peshmerga forces, received 410 displaced people who fled ISIS in and around the city of Hawija.

“The displaced people have been transferred to Laylan Camp [southwest of Kirkuk],” a statement released by the directorate read. “Food and needed items were distributed among them.”

Hawija, located some 50 km southwest of the city of Kirkuk, became an Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold when militants swept across northern and western Iraq in 2014.

Since then, hundreds of Iraqis have fled, eventually reaching the Peshmerga frontlines south of Kirkuk.

Hawijah with a population of around 245,000, is a mostly Sunni-Muslim inhabited district. Sunni officials have repeatedly said Shia militia participation in the Hawija offensive should not take place and would not be welcomed.

ISIS militants have been active in and around Kirkuk since the group’s rampage across Iraq in 2014 and the Hawija district remains one of the group’s two remaining militant strongholds in the country.

Kurdish and U.S. Special Forces conducted a raid on Hawija in October 2015 attempting to rescue what were believed to be Kurdish prisoners of war, and perhaps a group of Peshmerga that had gone missing in action.

Up to 69 men were rescued in the raid, although none of them were the Kurdish hostages.