Isis Torches Oil Wells to Slow Advance of Iraqi Forces near Hawija
Islamic State (ISIS) militants set fire to three oil wells near Hawija, west of Kirkuk, to slow down the advance of Iraqi forces, military and oil officials said.
Iraqi security forces were using bulldozers to control the fires caused by the militants on Saturday (September 30) to slow down the advance of the Iraqi forces and Hashid al-Shaabi towards Hawija, military officials said on Monday (October 2).
“Terrorists are trying to use the rising smoke to avert air strikes while retreating from the area toward Hawija,” army Colonel Mohammed al-Jabouri said.
Military officials said the fire of one of the wells had been controlled while the other two were still burning.
The fires would take about three days to be put out, according to the officials.
Oil officials from the state-run North Oil Company said it was still dangerous to send its crews in to assess the damages at the wells as the militants may have left bombs and landmines.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Friday (September 29) the second phase of an operation to liberate Hawija and surrounding areas from ISIS militants.
Iraqi forces launched an operation against ISIS after the Iraqi Premier announced the first phase of the operation to liberate Hawija and surrounding areas on September 21.
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.