Hawija – The Islamic State’s stronghold town of Hawija, Kirkuk, is almost becoming the group’s central haven as new headquarters open replacing others conquered by Iraqi forces in other provinces, said a local source.
Alsumaria News quoted the source saying Tuesday that IS had opened alternative headquarters for its so-called “Nineveh State, “Dijlah State”, “Salahuddin State” and “Diyala State” in Hawija. He said senior leaders had entered the town in armored vehicles after having fled battles with security forces in Nineveh. The source added that IS militants cut a number of main roads and subjected them to a curfew.
“Hawija has now become the group’s main haven, with members split between Hawija and Tal Afar an Baaj (west of Nineveh),” said the source.
Hawija and other neighboring areas in southwest Kirkuk have been under Islamic State control since 2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. The group executed dozens of civilians and security members there, forcing thousands to flee homes.
Local tribal leaders and politicians from Kirkuk have recently mounted pressure on the Iraqi government to hasten with invading Hawija, suggesting that its people were experiencing a humanitarian crisis under the group’s rule.
The Iraqi government is currently employing the largest portion of its military effort in Mosul, IS’s capital in Iraq where Iraqi commanders said recently they became in control over nearly 90 percent of territory since operations launched to retake the city in October.