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Abadi: Operation launched to retake Hawija from ISIL

Abadi lauds forces 'fighting more than one liberation battle at the same time' as drive against ISIL holdouts continues.

Hawija

Iraq's prime minister says government forces have begun the operation to retake the town of Hawija from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

In a statement released by his office, Haider al-Abadi said the operation began at dawn on Thursday; just two days after Iraqi forces began an offensive against ISIL holdouts in the western Anbar province.

"We announce the launch of the first phase of the liberation of Hawija, in fulfilment of our pledge to our people to liberate all Iraqi territory and to cleanse it from the terrorist Daesh gangs," Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.

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Abadi praised his forces, who were "fighting more than one liberation battle at the same time and winning victory after victory", adding that "a new victory" was looming.

One of the last

Hawija, located in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, 240km north of Baghdad, is one of the last pockets of territory held by ISIL fighters in Iraq.

Iraqi and coalition planes stepped up a campaign of air raids on Hawija earlier this month, targeting ISIL bases and weapons facilities.

Iraqi forces have already recaptured the northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar this year.


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