The Hawija operation has officially ended. The Iraqi forces are now gearing up to return to west Anbar. The preparations are already underway to liberate the last area of Iraq under Islamic State control.
General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah the commander in Hawija announced the operation over on October 10. During the fighting, approximately 150 villages were freed, and 385 IS fighters killed. Over 1,000 also surrendered to the Kurds during the end of the campaign. According to the New York Times, the wali of Hawija told his men to give themselves up to the Peshmerga instead of falling into the hands of the Hashd. During their retreat the insurgents set 15 oil wells on fire, which crews were attempting to gain control over. Since Mosul, the Islamic State has been collapsing. It has hardly put up a fight, has quickly given up ground, and hundreds have given themselves up rather than fight to the death as they once did. For months now Iraqi commanders have called IS a broken force. That has finally come true.
The Iraqi forces are turning their attention back to the west now. They are planning on attacking Qaim along the Syrian border and skipping Rawa to cut off IS’s supply lines and retreat route. There are increased air strikes and shelling going on to soften up the defenses before the joint forces began moving again. The west Anbar operation started before Hawija, but was then put on hold for the latter. The Iraqi command was hoping to conduct both simultaneously, but that might have proven beyond their capabilities. There may not be as many IS in the area as expected either as there are increased reports that insurgents are moving into the Anbar desert.
AIN, “Joint forces begin to make contact with Peshmerga north of Hawija,” 10/6/17
-“The popular crowd continues to clear villages in north Hawija and the Makhoul Mountains,” 10/9/17
- “Video…The start of the preliminary bombing in the process of liberating Qaim,” 10/9/17
Bas News, “Efforts Underway to Extinguish Fire on Oil Fields in Hawija,” 10/8/17
Al Ghad Press, “Iraqi artillery bombard sites in the cities of Rawa and Qaim,” 10/10/17
- “Popular crowd frees two villages northeast Hawija,” 10/6/17
Al Mada, “Hawija operations announced the liberation of 150 villages and killed 385 terrorists,” 10/8/17
- “The joint forces are preparing to break into the Anbar, leaving Rawa behind,” 10/8/17
Michaels, Jim, “1,000 ISIS militants surrender as Iraq retakes key town of Hawija,” USA Today, 10/5/17
Al Mirbad, “The army liberates Al-Hweilah in Hawija and moves towards another villages in the district,” 10/9/17
Mostafa, Nehal, “Over 300 Islamic State militants killed in Hawija offensive: Commander,” Iraqi News, 10/7/17
Nordland, Rod, “ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse,” New York Times, 10/8/17
Sherwani, Leyla, “Mount Hamrin Cleared from ID,” 10/7/17
Al Sumaria, “Yarallah announces the end of operation to liberate Hawija,” 10/10/17