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Iraq's Hashd al-Sha’abi forces retake 18 villages near Hawijah

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraqi forces advance towards Daesh terrorist group’s stronghold of Hawijah on October 1, 2017 in their ongoing battle to recapture the town from the extremists. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi fighters from Popular Mobilization Units have regained control over more than a dozen villages near town of Hawijah as they engage in joint military operations with army troops to purge Daesh Takfiri terrorists from their last bastion in the country’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.

The media bureau of Iraq's Badr Organization announced in a statement that the pro-government forces, commonly known by their Arabic name as Hashd al-Sha’abi, had establish full control over 18 villages, including Abdul Aziz, Sayyed Hassoun, al-Saan, Mulla Nasif, Tar al-Hamar, Kordarah, Tal Khadija, Al-Fashka, al-Sakhour and Dukmat.

The statement added that Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had also recaptured Heynas air base.

Meanwhile, a local source, requesting anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that a high-ranking Daesh commander had been killed in fierce clashes with Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.

The source identified the slain terrorist as Abu Bilal al-Masri, better known by the nom de guerre, al-Hummer. He was reportedly adept at using rocket-propelled grenades to target the Iraqi military’s Humvees.

Mass grave of army, security personnel found south of Hawijah

Separately, pro-government Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and members of the Federal Police force have discovered a mass grave south of Hawijah.

The grisly discovery was made on the outskirts of the recently-liberated al-Zarban village. The grave contained the remains of dozens of army and police conscripts.

Iraqi forces and pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units hold a position as they advance towards Daesh terrorist group’s stronghold of Hawijah on September 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Daesh torches oil wells near Hawijah

In a separate development, Daesh terrorists have set fire to three oil wells near Hawijah, located 45 kilometers west of Kirkuk.

Military and oil officials said on Monday that security forces were using bulldozers to control the fires started by the militants two days earlier.

Officials said the fires had been brought under control at one of the wells, while the other two are still burning, adding that it would take about three days to put them out.

Oil officials from the state-run North Oil Company said it was still too risky to send its crew members in to assess damage at the wells as terrorists may have left landmines and hidden bombs.

Daesh Takfiris torched the oil wells in the early hours of Saturday in a bid to slow the advance of Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters toward Hawijah.

In this file photo, Iraqi firemen are seen working with oil company representatives to extinguish the oil wells set ablaze by Daesh Takfiri terrorists in in Qayyarah, Iraq. (Photo by Getty Images)

“Terrorists are trying to use the rising smoke to avert airstrikes while retreating from the area towards Hawijah,” army colonel, Mohammed al-Jabouri said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on September 29 announced the start of the second phase of an offensive to liberate Hawijah from the grip of Daesh Takfiris.

“We announce the start of the second phase of the liberation of Hawijah and all the surrounding areas to the west of Kirkuk, and as promised the sons of our country are continuing to liberate every inch of the land of Iraq and crush the gangs of the Daesh terrorist group,” said Abadi in a statement.

The first phase of the operation to liberate Hawijah was launched on September 21.

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