The liberation of Hawija comes after two weeks of fighting
Iraq's Prime Minister has declared victory over Islamic State in Hawija, one of the group's last strongholds in the country.
Speaking in Paris, Haider al Abadi declared that the "liberation" of Hawija was a "victory not just for Iraq, but for the whole world".
The recapture is a strategic win for Iraqi troops, backed by a US-led coalition, who for the last year have been pushing to drive IS from parts of 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 Forces liberate #Hawija, prove again they're a battle-hardened, professional force dedicated/capable of ridding their country of #ISIS13:35 - 5 Oct 201715 91 223 OIR Spokesman@OIRSpox
It described the win as a "significant milestone" but added that security forces are continuing their work to drive IS from their remaining strongholds.
The militant group was significantly weakened over the summer when Iraqi troops fought street by street to take cities like Mosul and Tel Afar - with militants now concentrated in northern towns on the Syrian border.
The battle to oust IS has displaced tens of thousands of civilians
However, bringing the country under government control brings the new challenge of establishing a stable peace in Iraq.
Aid groups have warned that thousands of people have been displaced by the battle for Hawija, after suffering under IS rule since 2014 and enduring airstrikes and shortages as forces struggled to liberate the city.
A statement by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said that more than 12,500 people had fled and were now in need of water, food and shelter - often in overstretched refugee camps.
Heidi Diedrich, the NRC's director in Iraq, said: "Innocent Iraqi civilians have lost family members, had their homes destroyed and are left displaced with nothing.
She also warned further international assistance was needed to help the people of Hawija rebuild their lives.
It is thought that more than 100,000 people have been driven from their homes across the country.
The battle to oust IS has displaced tens of thousands of civilians
Officials are also considering how to deal with the push for independence from Iraq's Kurdish region, a little north of Hawija, after 90% of Kurds voted to secede from the state in a referendum last week.
Tensions between Sunni populations and a Shia-dominated government are also a concern as authorities face the task of rebuilding a country that has been reduced to rubble in many areas.
Following talks with Mr al Abadi on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged a €30m (£26m) loan to help with reconstruction in Iraq - adding that dialogue is needed to resolve the Kurdish crisis.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

 
Top