Iraqi forces recapture Hawija from ISIL

Iraqi forces have recaptured Hawija, one of the Islamic State group’s last strongholds in the country, the military said on Thursday.

Hawija, a town 230 km north of Baghdad close to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, had been under the group’s control since 2014.

Some 78,000 people were estimated to be trapped in the area, according to the United Nations.

With the recapture, the only area that remains under ISIL’s control in Iraq is a stretch alongside the western border with Syria.

The militants continue to control the border town of al-Qaim and the region surrounding it, near the eastern Syrian province of Deir al Zor.

They also hold parts of the Syrian side of the border, but the area under their control is shrinking as they retreat in the face of two different sets of hostile forces: a U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led coalition on the one hand and Syrian government troops with foreign Shi’ite militias backed by Iran and Russia on the other.
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