KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Governor of Kirkuk Province Najmaldin Karim on Monday claimed the town of Hawija has become a “haven” for Islamic State (IS) militants and called on the Iraqi army to launch its liberation “as soon as possible.”
As it loses territory in Nineveh and since falling in Mosul after reigning over it for three years, IS is now relocating its resources to Hawija in the multi-ethnoreligious province of Kirkuk in the Kurdistan Region.
"Today, Hawija has become a haven for terrorists," Karim said during a meeting with officials in Kirkuk, urging security forces to stabilize the situation.
The city poses a serious security threat on Kirkuk, according to the officials in the province.
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 Kurdish governor reiterated the importance of quickly focusing efforts on Hawija and nearby areas.
“The presence of [IS] in Hawija poses a serious security threat to the surrounding cities,” Karim has repeatedly stated.
Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have not yet given any timetable for the offensive on the predominantly Arab city of Hawija, a strategic town located in the west of Kirkuk.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has previously stated the Hawija operations will be launched “soon.”
Kirkuk is home to thousands of displaced people fleeing Hawija as well as hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Iraq’s mostly Sunni provinces.
“Life and proper services cannot return to Kirkuk without displaced people being able to go home to their liberated areas,” Karim said.
In addition to Hawija, IS still controls the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, and other towns in the far west of the country along the Syrian border.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany