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Iraqi Forces Advance Towards Hawija, Seize Air Base from ISIL.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi Army and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) captured an air base from ISIL terrorists on Monday, gaining a strategic foothold in the North of the country as they push toward the town of Hawija.

Iraq launched an offensive on September 21 to eject ISIL troops from Hawija, which lies West of the oil city of Kirkuk and is one of two areas of the country still under the control of the terror group, Al Waght reported.

Iraqi army commanders said the Rashad air base, which is around 30 km (20 miles) South of Hawija, was used by the terrorists as a training camp and logistic base.

ISIL took control of the air base after the Iraqi army collapsed in 2014 as the Takfiri group occupied swathes of the country's territory

"After quick rehabilitation works, the air base will play a key role for Iraqi forces by allowing helicopters to transport soldiers and arms in any future operation to maintain security in the North," said army Lieutenant Colonel Salih Yaseen.

"The air base will help to put an end to the terrorists' pockets hiding in mountainous areas near Kirkuk and remove any possible threat to the energy facilities and oilfields."

Hawija, North of Baghdad, and a stretch of land along the Syrian border, West of the Iraqi capital, are the last patches of territory in Iraq still occupied by ISIL.

ISIL's self-proclaimed rule collapsed in July, when Iraqi forces backed by PMF captured Mosul, the group's de facto capital in Iraq, after a fierce nine-month battle.

Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hailed the new stage of the Hawija liberation operation and said, "As we promised the sons of our country, we are going to liberate every inch of Iraqi land and crush the ISIL terrorist gangs"

"We are on the verge of a new victory to liberate the residents of these areas from those criminals," said the premier.

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Oct 3, 2017
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