Joint Ops Command Says Military Plan To Liberate Hawija Completed
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command has announced the military plan to liberate Hawija and other areas still under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS) is completed.
The Spokesman of the Joint Operations Command, Yahya Rasul, said during a press conference on Thursday (June 8) that Iraqi forces continue advancing in the western side of Mosul.
“The military plan specialized to liberate the districts of Hawija and Tal Afar, as well as other areas under ISIS, has been completed,” Rasul said.
Hawija, located some 50 km southwest of the city of Kirkuk, became an ISIS stronghold when militants swept across northern and western Iraq in 2014. Hawija district remains one of the group’s two remaining militant strongholds in the country.
Hawija has a population of about 245,000, and is a mostly Sunni-Muslim inhabited district, which has led to dissatisfaction among Sunni officials against any mention of Shia militia’s participation in the Hawija offensive.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on May 16 the offensive to liberate Hawija from ISIS militants would begin after the liberation of Mosul.
The Mosul offensive started in October with air and ground support from a U.S.-led international coalition. It has taken much longer than expected as ISIS is fighting in the middle of civilians, slowing the advance of the assailants.