World Bulletin / News Desk
“Federal Police armored vehicles and artillery battalions have been deployed to a base in Saladin’s Al-Shirqat district in advance of the campaign,” Captain Saad Mohamed of the army’s Saladin Operations Command told Anadolu Agency.
“Meanwhile, fresh reinforcements from the 56th Brigade of the Hashd al-Asheiri [pro-government Sunni tribal fighters] have been sent to the outskirts of Kirkuk’s western Hawija district for planned operations to liberate the area from ISIL,” Mohamed said.
He added that the recent deployments coincided with a series of airstrikes targeting ISIL militants still holed up in Hawija’s Qadisiyah, Neda, Tanak and Yarmouk neighborhoods.
Iraqi forces hope to fully recapture both districts -- Al-Shirqat and Hawija -- in simultaneous operations.
Last week, the Iraqi army began deploying troops to both areas, which have remained under the terrorist group’s control since mid-2014.
Kirkuk’s central, northern and eastern regions, meanwhile, have remained under the control of Kurdish forces (Peshmerga and Asayish) since the Iraqi army fled before ISIL’s 2014 advance.
The terrorist group has suffered a string of recent military defeats in northern Iraq.
Late last month, Iraqi forces captured Nineveh province’s Tal Afar district following a 10-day army operation. And in July, the city of Mosul -- ISIL’s last major redoubt in northern Iraq -- fell after a nine-month army campaign.