The Iraqi forces freed two important places in their Hawija operation. Those were the town of Hawija itself and Riyad to the south. That leaves just the northeast section of the Hawija district to be freed from the Islamic State.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi officially announced that Hawija had fallen. There was some heavy fighting in the northern and eastern sections of the town, but in two days IS was run off. The army’s 9th Division and the 26th Hashd Brigade also liberated Riyad to the south, and operations in the Hamrin Mountains were declared over. The Hamrin stretch from Salahaddin to Diyala and the Iraqi forces have claimed that they were in control of it three times now. The remaining part of Hawija will likely be taken in a day or two.
The Federal Police said that 270 IS fighters were killed in the Hawija campaign. Anther 600 surrendered to the Kurds to the north, and another 400-500 were being held by the Peshmerga as suspects. There were an estimated 2,000-3,000 IS fighters in the area when the offensive began meaning that roughly 1,000-2,000 insurgents escaped or are still in the district. IS has lines of maneuver through the Hamrin and Makhoul Mountains that connect to the surrounding provinces, which it could have used to smuggle its members out of the area.
The entire operation has gone exceedingly fast. Hawija was the last large area of Iraq that the militants held. It has been surrounded for months, and the open terrain provided little cover for the insurgents. Several Iraqi generals believe that the group is done as a conventional fighting force and that has proven true since the Mosul battle.
Baghdad Post, “Federal Police killed over 270 in Hawija recapture operation,” 10/5/17
Chmaytelli, Maher, “Islamic State driven out of last stronghold in northern Iraq,” Reuters, 10/5/17
Al Forat, “The end of the Hamrin operation,” 10/5/17
Al Sumaria, “Hawija operation announce the liberation of the entire Riyad area,” 10/5/17
Zucchino, David and Nordland, Rod, “Iraq Claims Victory in ISIS’ Last Urban Stronghold,” New York Times, 10/5/17