KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Sunni Arabs from Kirkuk on Monday called on the federal government of Iraq to arm 6,000 volunteers who are ready to free Hawija from the Islamic State (IS).
Hawija is one of the remaining strongholds of the jihadist group in northern Iraq, located in the Kirkuk Province. IS occupied the city in June 2014 after gaining control of Mosul.
“There are 6,000 volunteers that are ready to participate in a military operation to liberate Hawija from Da’esh [IS], but they need weapons and military equipment,” said Raad Sami Asse, the spokesperson for the Arab Council in Kirkuk, during a press conference.
Asse also mentioned the volunteer troops would welcome cooperation from either the Iraqi or Kurdish forces for the Hawija operation.
The Governor of Kirkuk Najmaddin Karim on Monday told reporters that the Baghdad government so far had made no plan to liberate Hawija.
Karim noted that Iraqi troops are instead planning to retake areas under IS control at the border with Jordan and Syria. “It seems the Hawija operation will begin after those areas are cleared from Da’esh.”
The governor has previously suggested there is a political agenda behind the postponing of the Hawija operation.
He has also highlighted the fact that there are over half a million Iraqi displaced persons in the province of Kirkuk and that tens of people flee Hawija to Peshmerga front lines on a daily basis, adding a heavy load on the already strained administration and general security of Kirkuk.
Editing by G.H. Renaud