Iraqi military recaptures vital Isis stronghold of Hawija

Iraq forces push into IS bastion of Hawija, says commander

Iraq forces push into IS bastion of Hawija, says commander

Iraqi government forces yesterday stormed the city of Hawija, killing 196 jihadists and recapturing 98 surrounding villages.

The Iraqi Army and the Iran-backed militias have regained control over one of the last ISIS strongholds in Iraq, the town of Hawija. Hawija is located some 240 kilometers north of Baghdad and 50 kilometers to the west of Kirkuk.

The offensive on Hawija was carried out by USA -backed Iraqi government troops and Iranian-trained and armed Shi'ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilization.

Iraqi forces "liberated the whole of the center of Hawijah and are continuing their advance", said the operation's commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah.

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"In addition to the terror they have experienced during years under the control of the IS group, numerous families who are arriving are malnourished", its acting area manager, Silvia Beccacece, said.

Kirkuk shaped up as a flashpoint last month when the KRG included the city in a referendum on Kurdish independence in northern Iraq.

Iraq launched an offensive on September 21 to dislodge Islamic State from Hawija and surrounding areas where up to 78,000 people could be trapped, according to the United Nations.

The liberation of Mosul, Tal Afar and Hawija demonstrate continued progress in the campaign to defeat ISIS, officials said, adding that the coalition will continue to support the Iraqi government of Iraq "as we recognize together the importance of a unified Iraq to the long-term security and prosperity of the Iraqi people".

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At one point it controlled almost a third of Iraqi territory.

Hawija, which lies 215km (135 miles) north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, has been a bastion of Sunni Arab insurgents since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Iraq and its neighbors have rejected the Kurdish region's independence referendum last month, and Baghdad has banned global flights and threatened to take control of the autonomous Kurdish region's borders.

The SDF has captured about 90 percent of Raqa and is fighting fierce battles with remaining IS militants.

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But growth is expected to be lower than the 70% achieved for the last contract, while foreign rights continue to rise sharply. Premier League clubs have failed to agree upon an initial proposal to redistribute overseas television money.

Once they fall, IS will be left with only a stretch of the Euphrates river valley around al-Qaim, in the western desert near the border with Syria.

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