Iraqi says it has launched an offensive to expel Islamic State (IS) militants from one of the last two areas in the country still controlled by the extremist group.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said the offensive on the town of Hawija in oil-rich Kirkuk Province began at dawn on September 21.
Reports said that army soldiers, federal police officers, Shi’ite fighters, and Sunni Arab tribesmen were participating in the offensive, backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
Military spokesman General Yahyah Rasul estimated that up to 1,500 IS fighters remained holed up in Hawija, which is located about 240 kilometers north of Baghdad and 50 kilometers to the west of Kirkuk.
Earlier this week, Iraqi forces began an offensive against IS-held pockets of territory in the western Anbar Province near the border with Syria.
On September 20, they retook the town of Rihana, according to the international coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants, who captured large swathes of Iraqi territory in summer 2014.