0325 GMT March 22, 2018
“Federal Police, Rapid Response, army brigades and Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), liberated 20 villages in Hawija,” Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of Hawija Operations, said on Thursday, iraqinews.com reported.
According to Yarallah, Iraqi troops managed to conclude the first phase of operations, which started early on Thursday.
During a joint press conference with Ryan Dillon, spokesman of the US-led coalition against Daesh, on Thursday, Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said the number of Daesh members in Hawija falls between 800 and 1,500.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command Thursday announced the launch of first phase of operations to liberate Hawija and western Shirqat. Several villages in Shirqat have been retaken.
Hawija and other neighboring regions, west of Kirkuk, have been held by Daesh since mid-2014.
Other offensives were launched earlier this week at the group’s havens in western Anbar’s borders with Syria.