Hawija – Having lost Mosul, its main stronghold in Iraq, Islamic State is preparing for a military parade in Kirkuk’s Hawija, another bastion it has held since 2014, according to intelligence sources.
Shafaq News website quoted the source saying that IS called upon young men, aged at least 15, to sign up for the planned show of force. The source said the parade aims to make up for demoralization caused by losing Mosul, which Iraqi commanders announced recapturing totally on Sunday.
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 their homes to refugee camps or neighboring provinces. The civilians are executed for either attempting to flee the town or for collaboration with security forces.
Local tribal leaders and politicians from Kirkuk have 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. Having concluded its campaign in Mosul, the Iraqi government is planning to launch further offensives at other IS pockets across Iraq, including Hawija.