ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Governor of Kirkuk Najmaldin Karim on Monday accused the Federal Government of Iraq of ignoring the liberation of Hawija occupied by the Islamic State (IS) since June 2014.
Hawija is one of the strategic cities located in the west of Kirkuk occupied by the militants three years ago.
The city poses a serious security threat on Kirkuk, according to the officials in the province.
The military operation to liberate the city was postponed several times.
It was planned to be freed before the Mosul operation. Now, it has been delayed until after the liberation of Tal Afar in western Mosul.
“What hurts us is the neglect of Hawija's liberation operation in spite of repeated demands it should be quickly freed,” Karim said in a statement issued after his meeting with the local head of service and administration in Kirkuk.
There have been various reports about the worsening humanitarian situation in Hawija as the extremist group executes civilians and prevents them from leaving the city.
“The presence of [IS] in Hawija poses a serious security threat to the surrounding cities,” Karim added.
The governor called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces in Iraq, to launch the Hawija operation and eliminate IS in the area.
Peshmerga commanders have repeatedly mentioned they are ready for the start of the city’s operation.
They also warned that following the liberation of the city, the security should not be handed to the local people, claiming most people in the Arab-dominated city of Hawija are IS fighters.
“Following its liberation, if security is handed to the local people, it would mean we freed the city from [IS] and handed back to them,” Peshmerga commander in western Kirkuk Kamal Kirkuki told Kurdistan 24.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany