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Iraqi forces, allies poised to launch Hawija operation

An Iraqi military official says government forces, backed by allied fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, are preparing to launch a major military operation aimed at liberating the town of Hawija in the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk from Daesh Takfiri terrorists anytime soon.

The unnamed official told Arabic-language al-Araby al-Jadeed news website on Friday that Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) has formed a new force, dubbed Operation “We Are Coming, Hawija” to retake the town, located 45 kilometers west of the provincial capital city of Kirkuk.

He added that Iraqi army units, members of the Federal Police Force and Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), the Interior Ministry’s elite rapid response forces as well as volunteer fighters, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, will participate in the battle.

The officer described the offensive to retake Hawija as difficult, pointing to the intense concentration of Daesh leaders and elements in the town plus the high number of civilians, whom the terrorists have held as human shields.

The remarks came as Israeli military aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets across Hawija last night and early in the morning, announcing the imminent launch of the military operation to recapture the town.

Hawija is one of four Iraqi towns still controlled by Daesh terrorists. The other three towns of al-Qa’im, located nearly 400 kilometers northwest of the capital Baghdad near the Syrian border, Anah and Rawa are in the western province of Anbar.