ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday announced the full liberation of Hawija from the Islamic State (IS), adding he expects the “complete defeat” of the group this year.
During a televised broadcast on Iraqi state television, Prime Minister Abadi said the extremist group had suffered another setback in Hawija and would be completely defeated in Iraq this year.
“As I have promised to you all, this year will see the end of IS in Iraq,” the Iraqi PM said. “Members of IS are currently gripped with fear everywhere.”
Abadi’s statement comes one week after he declared the recapture of the city, west of Kirkuk, after a two-week campaign against the militant group.
An Iraqi army commander in Hawija said security forces had begun clearing liberated areas of booby-traps and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted by IS.
“After Iraqi security troops had accomplished their tasks in the liberation of Hawija and its suburbs, the explosive mine experts affiliated with Federal Police started clearing the area from mines and IEDs,” the unnamed commander was quoted by Reuters.
“Iraqi troops were able to reach their designated targets close to the Peshmerga,” he added.
After the fall of Mosul in July, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, IS’ so-called “caliphate” has effectively collapsed in the country.
The extremists now only control a stretch of territory on the western border with Syria.
Meanwhile, over 1,000 IS fighters had recently turned themselves in to Kurdish forces following the militant group’s defeat in Hawija on Oct. 5.
According to Kurdish intelligence officials, since losing control of the city, the extremists have surrendered in waves, signaling a turning point in the war against one of the most feared terror groups in the world.
Editing by Ava Homa