Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Last Major Islamic State Site Freed

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Last Major Islamic State Site Freed

Article excerpt

ISLAMIC State's last urban stronghold in Iraq has been recaptured, the Iraqi military has said.

The town of Hawija and the surrounding area have been declared as freed from the jihadists' rule for the first time since 2014.

"The army's ninth armoured division, the Federal Police, the Emergency Response division and ... Popular Mobilisation Units liberated Hawija," joint operations commander, Lieutenant- General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah said.

A total of 196 militants were killed and 96 villages around the town were liberated during the fighting, Lt-Gen Yarallah added.

US-backed Iraqi government troops and Iranian- trained Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Units began the offensive on September 21.

The UN had estimated 78,000 people were trapped in Hawija and surrounding villages under IS control.

Thousands of civilians braved mines, IS sniper fire and US-led coalition air strikes to flee the fighting.

The speedy conclusion to the operation means IS has lost its last major position in the country. …

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