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Iraqi forces complete full liberation of al-Hawija

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi army reinforcements drive down a road, linking al-Hawija to Kirkuk, near the village of Khabbaz on October 7th. Iraq declared the completion of the al-Hawija operations on October 10th. [Marwan Ibrahim/AFP]

Military operations to retake the city of al-Hawija from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) have been completed, al-Hawija Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Ameer Rashid Yarallah announced on Tuesday (October 10th).

Military units liberated the remaining southern part of the city centre, the town of al-Riyadh, and 161 villages and areas, he said in a statement.

Also fully taken were the al-Fatha-al-Riyadh road towards Kirkuk, and 45 kilometres of the Hamreen mountain range from the Zgheitun bridge to al-Fatha bridge.

On October 5th, the army declared al-Hawija liberated from ISIS, while operations continued around the town.

The 21-day battle saw a major collapse in the ranks of ISIS, whose fighters did not display any strong resistance to the liberating forces, officials said.

"Iraqi forces completed the mission with great success and managed to serve ISIS a resounding defeat in its last stronghold in the north of the country," said Kirkuk provincial council member Maan Mohammed al-Hamadani.

ISIS elements were weak and incapable of direct military confrontation, he told Diyaruna.

Many militants surrendered out of despair and frustration, he said.

"At least 400 terrorists have surrendered with their families to the liberating forces, as well as to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces east of al-Hawija," he said.

"They were mostly Iraqi ISIS elements and residents of the city itself," he said.

Before surrendering, ISIS fighters set fire to their headquarters and media centres to prevent any evidence from falling into the Iraqi forces' hands, he said.

Large units from the army, federal police, rapid response force and counter-terrorism service, have taken part in the operation to liberate al-Hawija, with direct support from the Iraqi air force and international coalition warplanes.

With the recapture of al-Hawija, ISIS's only remaining presence in Iraq is in the western Anbar province cities of Rawa and al-Qaim.

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