(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (KUNA) -- Iraqi security forces initiated early today major combat operations in Hawijah, a city the so-called Islamic State (IS) seized control of in 2014, it was announced Thursday.
The Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement that Hawijah became isolated from the rest of IS' territory in July 2016 during the battle of Mosul, when Shirqat was captured by Iraqi troops.
"The liberation of Hawijah will be yet another major achievement in the Iraqi forces' relentless drive to liberate civilians trapped by (IS)" said Felix Gedney of the British army, the task force's deputy commander for strategy and support.
According to the statement, "Iraqi forces began their offensive into the Middle Euphrates River Valley, which stands as one of two remaining pockets of (IS) fighters remaining in Iraq, along with western Anbar province." For his part, the coalition's spokesman Ryan Dillon said that "the rapid, recent success of the Iraqi security forces points to [their] momentum in the campaign to destroy (IS) in Iraq." He added that IS "has never been capable of providing effective governance or services that benefited the people under its rule." "Its defeat in Iraq further demonstrates (IS) is an organization in decline, whose leaders are no longer capable of effective military command and control," he stressed.
He noted that recent IS attacks on civilian targets "signal a shift in tactics from an organization unable to contend on the battlefield." "The coalition will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the [Iraqi security forces] in their fight against a brutal and backward organization and its ideology," he concluded. (end) si.gta