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Iraq Retakes Town of Hawija From Islamic State


Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) sit next to the black flag sign commonly used by Islamic State militants, after liberating the city Hawija, Iraq, Oct. 5, 2017.

Iraqi forces have captured the town of Hawija from Islamic State militants, the country’s prime minister said Thursday.

Haider al-Abadi declared victory during a joint news conference with French leader Emmanuel Macron in Paris, calling it “a victory not just for Iraq, but for the whole world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Oct. 5, 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Oct. 5, 2017.

U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops, along with Iranian-backed Shi'ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilization Forces, carried out the offensive on Hawija, which began on September 21.

Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, commanding general of the joint task force in Iraq, commended the Iraqi troops on retaking the city, saying they “fought bravely and professionally against a brutal and determined enemy.”

According to a task force press release, the battle took 14 days, and more than 1,000 terrorists reportedly surrendered.


The northern Iraqi town was one of the last strongholds for IS, which now only holds smaller pieces of Iraqi territory near the border with Syria. The group also still controls a few clustered towns in Iraq’s far western Anbar province.

Iraqi forces have retaken nearly all the land once held by IS jihadis, including Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, which was conquered in June.

No immediate details were available about the fate of civilians in the city.

As many as 78,000 civilians were trapped in Hawija by the fighting, according to U.N. estimates. An estimated 12,500 people fled Hawija since the operation began to retake the town and surrounding areas.

Displaced people, who fled from their homes in Hawija, cross the water to reach the other bank to be transported to camps for displaced people, in southwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, Oct. 4, 2017.
Displaced people, who fled from their homes in Hawija, cross the water to reach the other bank to be transported to camps for displaced people, in southwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, Oct. 4, 2017.

A spokesman for the coalition, Ryan Dillon, lauded the victory on Twitter, saying Iraqi forces were continuing “to crush ISIS in Hawija pocket. He said Abadi’s pledge to “liberate all Iraqi territory and to cleanse it from terrorists" was "close" to being fulfilled.

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