ERBIL— The operation to retake the control of the Islamic State (IS)-held town of Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk, will launch before the end of September, said an Arab MP from Kirkuk on Sunday.
Khaled al-Mafraj was cited by some Iraqi media reports as saying that the operation will not be postponed due to the Kurdistan independence referendum, (arranged for 25th September.)
Hawija operation has not been postponed, Mafraj remarked, warning any further delay in the expected offensive will give room to Daesh (IS) to invade other areas.
He added the armed forces are fully prepared for launching the operation which probably will take place late September, noting the military commanders and the general commander of the armed forces, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, have the final word over the timing of the offensive.
The Iraqi army, backed by international coalition’s support, has already reclaimed the control of Mosul and Tel Afar. Hawija remains the third and last IS capital in Iraq.
Despite the decline in their manpower and morale, the Islamic jihadists who control Hawija for more than three years still pose a major threat against the security of the oil-rich ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.
All indications suggest that the operation to free Hawija will launch soon.
Iraqi Air Force has more than once dropped leaflets on Hawija and its surrounding areas, warning the extremists to surrender or face death and the civilians to stay away from the fighters’ gatherings.