Baghdad to Use Hawija Liberation as a Bid Against Kurdistanís Independence Referendum

The Iraqi federal government is attempting to further delay the Hawija operation on hopes of using the liberation of the town from Islamic State (IS) as a political bid against the Kurdistan Region, said commander of Peshmerga forces on western Kirkuk frontline.The Sunni town of Hawija has been under the control of IS since 2014 and it is of strategic importance for the jihadist group. Located in west of Kirkuk province, the town under IS rule is believed by Kirkuk officials to be a constant threat on their province.

Commander Mohammed Regir told the Voice of America that Hawija assault is not believed to happen any time soon as the Mosul operation is likely to further prolong.

Kurdistan Region is holding a referendum on independence on September 25th, until when Regir believes Baghdad will delay Hawija operation.

However, the Peshmerga commander dismissed the claim about increasing number of IS jihadists in and around Hawija, saying only few militants can be found in each village around the town.

Iraqi Prime Minsinter Haider al-Abadi previously ensured that government forces will move on in Hawija and neighbouring Tel Afar soon after they conclude the operation in Mosul. However, he is yet to provide a timetable.