Hawija – A member of the Islamic State with an Arab nationality was mysteriously assassinated at the group’s Kirkuk stronghold of Hawija, while the group expelled dozens of civilians local sources said Monday.
Alsumaria News quoted the source saying that the militant was killed on the town’s outskirts, but did not explain how the assassination was carried out. He added that the assassination stoked already heating tensions among members in Hawija, with Arab members accusing local comrades of masterminding the killing.
Meanwhile, another source said the group seized the homes of 60 families in Hawija and forced them to move to farmlands on the town’s outskirts. The source said the militants accused the families of “disloyalty” to the group. He explained that most of the families expelled had some members executed by the Islamic State for various reasons.
“Daesh (Islamic State) is seeking to empty Hawija of families who it suspects of opposing it,” 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.
Three weeks ago, Alsumaria News quoted sources saying 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.