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Iraqi Army Says Forces Retake Center of IS Bastion Hawija

Iraqi Army Says Forces Retake Center of IS Bastion Hawija

US -backed Iraqi forces captured the city of Mosul in a grueling battle which lasted nine months.

Major General Raid Shaker Jawdat, commander of Iraq's Federal Police, said, "The federal forces liberated the district of Hawija, the Hawija hospital as well as the Askari, Nidaa and Thawra neighbourhoods, and are in control of the centre of the province of Hawija in full".

The offensive on Hawija is being carried out by US -backed Iraqi government troops and Iranian-trained and armed Shi'ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilisation.

Hawija is close to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Hawija is located some 240 kilometers north of Baghdad and 50 kilometers to the west of Kirkuk.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris on Thursday morning after holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Abadi called the recapture of Hawija a "victory not just of Iraq, but of the whole world".

The UN's humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said the number of people still in the town was unknown but could be as high 78,000.

IG kept liberated by the Iraqi army Hawija 2014.

The relatively swift fight in Hawija has mimicked August's battle for the northern city of Tal Afar, where the militants put up mild resistance before surrendering or withdrawing, Iraq's military said.

Hawija, 230 kilometres north of Baghdad, was one of two significant areas still held by ISIL in Iraq, along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border, which is also under attack.

Iraqi forces today claimed the recapture of the last besieged district held by the Islamic State in the country.

A statement for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition fighting IS, said "battle-hardened" troops had fought for 14 days to liberate the city. Iraqi security forces said IS militants were preventing some people from leaving and might have laid explosives around the town.

ISIS released an audio recording last week that it billed as a message from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rumored to be dead since the summer. The town became the main stronghold of the terror group in the region after the Iraqi army regained control of Mosul in July.