Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says army troops, backed by allied Kurdish forces, will soon launch a multi-pronged operation to liberate Hawijah town in the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk from Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Addressing reporters during a weekly press briefing in the capital Baghdad on Wednesday, Abadi stated that government forces, in full cooperation with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, will eventually retake the town, located 45 kilometers west of the provincial capital city of Kirkuk, and drive Daesh militants out of the area, Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported.
He added that Iraqi army troops will then seek to recapture the still militant-held areas in the western province of Anbar.
Hawijah is one of four Iraqi towns still controlled by Daesh militants. The other three towns of al-Qa’im, located nearly 400 kilometers northwest of Baghdad near the Syrian border, Anah and Rawa are in Anbar province.
Daesh terrorists took control of Hawijah after capturing Mosul and several other Iraqi cities in mid-2014.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Abadi touched on the forthcoming independence referendum in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
“Holding a referendum without paying attention to the forecast results translates as the deliberate deceit of people,” the Iraqi prime minister pointed out.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run TRT Haber television news network last month that the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s plans to hold the independence referendum would lead to “civil war” in Iraq.
Hoshyar Zebari, a close adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, told Reuters on August 12 that Kurdish authorities were determined to hold the referendum on September 25 irrespective of all objections.
In June, Abadi described as untimely the decision by Barzani to hold the referendum.
Iran has also expressed opposition to the “unilateral” scheme, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region is part of the majority Arab state.