ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A security official in Kirkuk stated that the postponing of the Hawija liberation operation is due to political reasons and poses a real threat to the city.
Brigadier General and Kirkuk Suburban Police Chief Sarhad Qadir recently told Kurdistan24 that political goals are behind the delay in liberating Hawija from the Islamic State (IS).
Qadir stated that the Kirkuk security and administration officials had requested Iraqi authorities retake Hawija before the launch of the Mosul operations, but that the Iraqi government kept delaying it.
The Kurdish official said that the reason for the delay is "political," stating that IS extremists in the area are a constant threat to the security of Kirkuk and other cities of the Kurdistan Region.
“One district, four sub-districts and 500 villages are still under the control of IS extremists in the Kirkuk province,” Qadir told Kurdistan24.
Hawija is one of the few remaining IS’ strongholds in Iraq. The city has been under the control of the insurgent group since June 2014, and the group holds nearly 250,000 civilians trapped in the city and surrounding areas.
The US Presidential Envoy to the International Coalition against the Islamic State (IS), Brett McGurk, in a press conference at the US Embassy in Baghdad last week said that Hawija would be a tough campaign.
Ahmed Khurshid, a member of the Hawija District Council, previously told Kurdistan24 that IS extremists had moved their main headquarter from Mosul to Hawija as they were on the verge of defeat Iraq's second largest city.
Editing by G.H. Renaud