The spokesman for pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, commonly by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, says the volunteer fighters will join army soldiers in counter-terrorism operations to liberate the last remaining areas in Iraq still controlled by the Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
Ahmed al-Assadi stated on Thursday that his fellow fighters “will be a main partner in liberating Hawijah and all other militant-controlled regions.”
The town of Hawijah, located 45 kilometers west of the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, has been under the control of Daesh militants since June 2014, when the extremists’ leader Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his self-styled “caliphate.”
Assadi’s remarks came only three days after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
In the run-up to Mosul liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units had made sweeping gains against Daesh since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began eight months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas of eastern Mosul.
Twenty-eight aid groups working in Iraq issued a statement on Monday, calling for international support for the reconstruction of Mosul and urged Iraqi authorities not to press civilians to return.
They also expressed deep concerns for Iraqis trapped in Daesh-controlled areas in Iraq, namely Tal Afar, Hawijah and the troubled western province of Anbar.
“For the expected offensives in Hawijah, Tal Afar and western Anbar, where approximately 150,000 civilians are thought to still be trapped, it is vital that lessons are learnt from past offensives,” the aid groups said, demanding access to safety and assistance be prioritized.
‘90,000 Izadi Kurds have fled Iraq since Daesh emergence’
Meanwhile, director of Izadi Affairs at Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Region, Khairi Bouzani, said on Thursday that around 90,000 Izadis out of a total of 550,000 had emigrated from Iraq to Europe in the wake of Daesh atrocities in the Arab country.
Bouzani said 350,000 Izadi Kurds were displaced after their cities in northwestern Iraq were overrun by Daesh Takfiris, noting that 1,293 Izadis were also killed at the hands of the terrorists.
The Kurdish official further underlined that 43 mass graves with remains of Izadi victims were discovered, and scores of religious sites belonging to the minority were destroyed by Daesh members as well.
Back in August 2014, Daesh terrorists overran Sinjar, killing, raping, and enslaving large numbers of Izadis. The town was later recaptured on November 13, 2015, during a two-day operation by Peshmerga forces and Izadi fighters.
The Office of Kidnapped Affairs in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk says around 3,500 Izadi Kurds, mainly women and children, are being held captive in the Daesh-held areas.