ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security forces and the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga await the zero hour launch for the military operation to retake the Islamic State (IS)-held city of Hawija in southern Kirkuk.
According to a Kurdistan 24 correspondent, the Hawija operation will launch from eight different fronts, with Peshmerga forces holding three lines and leading the offensive.
Mohammed Regr, the Peshmerga Commander for the western Kirkuk frontline, told Kurdistan 24 the Peshmerga forces do not require the presence of Iraqi forces on their frontlines.
“Peshmerga forces are sufficiently equipped and qualified to launch the offensive on Hawija. If we needed support from the Iraqi forces, we would ask for it,” Regr said.
Three of the Hawija operation fronts are located in Hashd al-Shaabi controlled areas, where they have already brought reinforcement in preparation for the offensive.
Shareef Basha, a commander in the Hashd al-Shaabi revealed to Kurdistan 24 they intend to bring more of their forces to Kirkuk for the Hawija operation.
Kurdistan 24 has learned that Hashd al-Shaabi forces have gathered around 10,000 fighters in the area.
“Our forces will participate in retaking Hawija and its sub-districts and surrounding villages. All the preparations have been made and we will bring more forces into the area in the upcoming days,” Basha stated.
Hawija is one of the last remaining IS’ strongholds in Iraq. The city has been under the control of the insurgent group since June 2014, and the militants hold nearly 200,000 civilians trapped in the city and surrounding areas.
Editing by G.H. Renaud