ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Three Islamic State (IS) “terrorists” were killed in Iraq’s Hawija area on Saturday in a military operation carried out by the US-led coalition and US Special Forces.
“At 1300 hours on 5/1/2019 - The International Coalition carried out an operation against the terrorist site of Daesh [IS] in Hawija - Mazirer village. The operation was carried out by an air strike and landing of US Special Forces, killing 3 terrorists,” a security source from Kirkuk told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
The source mentioned that two of the targeted terrorists had already been identified.
“The terrorist (Hamad Idan Jumah Barak al-Khafaji) and the terrorist (Salam Hassan Abdul Hammadi al-Khafaji),” were killed as the source noted they were “from the people of the village of Birima – Hawija.
The terrorist cell was responsible for targeting electricity towers between central Kirkuk and Hawija, the source explained.
He also said that during the attack, “a roadside bomb exploded on US Special Forces,” resulting in losses without giving any further details.
Iraq declared victory against IS in Dec. 2017, but the jihadist group continues to carry out insurgency attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings.
Hawija is located in the southwest of Kirkuk Province, with a pre-dominant Sunni population.
After weeks of fighting in Hawija and surrounding areas, Iraqi forces announced the liberation of the region from IS in Oct. 2017. However, since then, the jihadist group has continuously launched insurgency attacks in the area, with Kurdish officials repeatedly warning of the group’s possible resurgence, similar to the pre-Mosul occupation in 2014.
According to Najmaldin Karim, who served as the Governor of Kirkuk Province from 2011 until Oct. 2017, it is questionable that IS did not show any resistance in Hawija during the Iraqi military operation when it was known to be one of its major strongholds.
“What was called the liberation of Hawija,” Karim said, “was basically these people [IS militants] shaved, threw the dishdasha, threw their things, went to their homes, and now they’re being reactivated and are active again.”
He warned that most of the jihadists in the area were locally recruited.
Editing by Nadia Riva