Saturday, September 30, 2017

2nd Phase Of Hawija Operation Underway


After another short pause the Hawija operation was on once again. The Iraqi forces freed the Shirqat district in northern Salahaddin. Then did some clearing operations before starting their campaign once again to free Hawija only the second large piece of Iraqi territory still under Islamic State control.

The majority of the Shirqat district was freed on September 23. The Federal Police were tasked with mopping up operations, which lasted until September 28. 52 Islamic State fighters were killed in the process. With that completed and the Kurdish referendum over the Iraqi forces could go back on the offensive. Earlier, Baghdad and Irbil reached an agreement over Hawija. Although it was not reported it was likely that the central government decided to hold off on making another push on Hawija while the Kurdish independence vote was going on as it could have been seen as provocative and led to a military confrontation between the two sides.

September 28 the Tigris Operations Commander predicted that Hawija would be a quick victory. General Ali Fadil Omran said that preparations were over and that the Islamic State would be defeated. Roughly 40,000 fighters from the Hashd, Federal Police, Rapid Reaction units, the army’s 9th Division, and the Golden Division would take part. After Mosul, several army and counter-terrorism generals pushed Prime Minister Haidar Abadi to take on all the remaining IS territories simultaneously believing that the group was done as a conventional force. So far that has gone as predicted as the militants have barely put up a fight.

Premier Abadi announced the start of the second phase of the Hawija battle on September 29. IS set two wells in the Alas oil field on fire south of Hawija to try to block the advance of the Iraqi forces and obstruct air strikes. The Iraqi forces ended up freeing 11 villages including the Abbasid area on the first day. The joint forces are pushing in on the district from the west, and have taken roughly one-third of the territory. Given the current pace the entire area could be freed in a matter of days. That will leave western Anbar as the only part of the country still under the Islamic State.

SOURCES

Buratha News, “The popular crowd plans to launch an operation to free the border area with Syria,” 9/28/17

Al Forat, “URGENT Hawija operations: the liberation of the Abbasid area in full,” 9/29/17

Al Ghad Press, “East Tigris commander expecting to achieve a quick victory in Hawija,” 9/28/17
- “Fighters set southern Hawija oil wells on fire to block advance of security forces,” 9/29/17
- “Joint forces liberate 11 villages in Hawija operation,” 9/29/30

Mostafa, Nehal, “52 IS militants killed while combing retaken areas in Salahuddin: Ministry,” Iraqi News, 9/28/17

Al Noor News, “Hawija operations announce the liberation of the entire Abbasid area,” 9/29/17

Al Sumaria “Joint forces liberate the Abbasid region and eight villages in Hawija,” 9/28/17

Waradana, “Abadi announces the launch of the second phase of Hawija operation,” 9/29/17

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