United States welcomes Iraqi victory in northern town

REUTERSAn ISIS black sign seen near Al-Al-Fateha military airport since retaken by Iraqi forces

Iraqi forces pushed into the Islamic State group bastion of Hawija on Wednesday, stepping up their assault against one the jihadists' last enclaves in the country, the operation's commander said.

The U.S. -backed Iraqi government forces were backed up by Iranian-trained and armed Shiite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilization.

As noted, the liberated areas were under the control of the terrorists in 2014.

Iraqi security officials say the militants are preventing some residents from leaving, while others are afraid of escaping toward government forces because of explosives that might have been laid by Islamic State around the town.

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Dozens of ISIS fighters, pushed back by Iraqi forces, surrendered to the Kurdistan Regional Government in the north.

Hawija, 230 kilometres north of Baghdad, was one of two significant areas still held by ISIL in Iraq, along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border, which is also under attack.

The United Nations said on October 3 that an estimated 12,500 people had fled Hawija since the launch of the offensive.

Iraqi forces have retaken almost all the land once held by IS jihadis, including Mosul, the country's second-largest city, which was conquered in June.

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The Hawija offensive was launched in on September 21 by Iraq's army as part of its drive to dislodge ISIS from the country.

Hawija is located near the oil city of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

A statement for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition fighting IS, said "battle-hardened" troops had fought for 14 days to liberate the city.

Macron said France and others are anxious about the situation of the Kurds after last month's referendum, and said France supports the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. They have since retaken the town of Anna and are expected to target Raqqa and finally al-Qaim.

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The operation occurred concurrently with that for the final ISIS held pocket in Iraq, the western Anbar province close to the border with Syria.

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