A major military operation has begun by the Iraqi government to hunt down and finish off the last remnants of the Islamic State in the Kirkuk region. Elements of air force and Iraqi armored divisions were deployed alongside Iranian-funded para military Hashd Al-Shabi units. The PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces) were named specifically in the tasking of the leg work for the operation.
Leading the PMF effort is a commander by the name of Karim Nuri who claims the operation is in response to recent attacks by the crippled groups and to clear the remaining contested areas. The 9th Armored Division, of the Iraqi Army, will specifically be simultaneously clearing/maintaining the areas in and around Hawija according to the Joint Operations Command.
Hashd al-Shaabi spokesman, Ali Husseini, reported that the operation has started in an effort to eliminate Islamic State sleeper cells. He told reporters that the operation will be successful by utilizing the Air Force initially to great extent followed by the thorough progression of ground forces who will secure the area thereafter.
Prior to these events, on December 27, 2017 the deputy commander of strategy and support, UK Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, of the United States led coalition stated that they were “keenly aware of multiple ISIS terrorists” in regards to the Hawija territories and Hamrin Mountains. So this operation was a long time coming but it remains to be seen if it will be successful when the dust settles.