In Rudaw 

Iraqi PM Abadi says Talafar, Hawija operation to start soon

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has announced that the Hawija and Talafar operations will start soon and that the operations will aim to strengthen security and Iraq’s borders and not entering any other country’s territories.

Abadi announced the news of the planned military operations in a meeting with commanders of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces who have fought ISIS alongside government troops in the last three years.

Talafar lies west of Mosul and near the Syrian border. Most of its population were once Shiites and Turkmen and operations to retake it from ISIS has been delayed, according to Hashd commanders, pending final orders from the prime minister.

Hawija is west of Kirkuk and considered one of the main ISIS strongholds in Iraq.

Militants have launched numerous attacks against Kurdish Peshmerga forces south of Kirkuk in the past three years and therefore it is seen as a major threat to Kirkuk’s security and stability by Kurdish military leaders.

Hashd commanders report that they have already closed the border with Syria, preventing ISIS from shuttling back and forth between the two countries.

The deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi, Abu Mahdi Muhandis, said that thy have controlled 14,000 square kilometers, 360 villages and two towns since the military operations started in October of last year.