Military forces from Iraq are driving out fighters from the Islamic State in their last bastion in Iraqi territory. On Tuesday, the military announced that they’ve driven ISIS troops out of the center of the town of Hawija.
In heavy fighting, the Iraqis claim to have killed 196 ISIS fighters and recaptured 98 small villages that surround the town. Hawija is the last big enclave of the Islamic State in Iraq. Once they’ve been ousted, they will control only a small strip of land between Iraq and Syria.
On Tuesday, Iraqi forces captured the Rashad air base south of the city, which was used as a training camp by the militants.
The UN said on Tuesday up to 78,000 civilians were still trapped in Hawija. Iraqi security forces said IS militants were preventing some people from leaving and might have laid explosives around the town.
About 12,500 people had fled since the army’s operation began two weeks ago, according to the UN. It is unclear though how many civilians have escaped in the past couple of days.
Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah, the Iraqi force commander, told the press that a combined force of military, police, and paramilitary had captured the center of Hawija and are continuing the advance. The Islamic State had held Hawija since moving into Iraq in 2014.
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