ERBIL, Iraq – The Iraqi army took on Wednesday full control of al-Hawija, an Islamic State stronghold in northeastern Iraq, major areas of which were retaken in early October, including the main city.
The troops managed to recover the last territory that was under IS control in the northeast of the country, said a statement from the joint operations commander.
Al-Hawija, located in the province of Kirkuk, was one of the last strongholds of Islamic State in northern Iraq, after it was ousted in July from Mosul and from large swathes of territories it had occupied in 2014.
The oil-rich region, where the Sunni Arab tribes are a majority, is of strategic importance owing to its position between the cities of Kirkuk and Tikrit, the capital of Salah ad-Din province.
The Federal Police, the Emergency Response division, rapid response, the Army and Popular Mobilization Forces Shiite militia took part in the offensive that was launched on Sept. 21, and whose second phase started on Sept. 29.
The offensive will now focus on the area bordering Syria, Al-Qaim in western Iraq, believed to be the last stronghold of the IS.