Iraqi forces seize oil fields in offensive to free Hawijah from IS

Iraqi forceBaghdad : The Iraqi security forces on Saturday seized two oil fields in second phase of offensive to dislodge the extremist Islamic State (IS) militants from Hawijah and surrounding areas, the Iraqi military said.

The security forces managed to free the oil fields of Allas and Ajil in the eastern part of Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudin, after two days of clashes with IS militants, a source from Salahudin Operations Command, told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

By Saturday evening, the troops recaptured all the oil wells of the two oil fields and seized the nearby Himreen mountain range in south of the IS-held city of Hawijah, which itself located some 230 km north of Baghdad, the source said.

Before the offensive, the IS militants seized roughly 100 oil wells of the 200 wells of the two oil fields, and they used to extract crude oil and refine it in primitive ways, leaving many nearby valleys filled with leaked oil, he said.

The militants set fires in some 34 oil wells, some of them were on fire for about three years since the extremist group captured the area in 2014, the source added.

In the past, Ajil oil field used to give some 35,000 barrels per day (bpd). The two oil fields, Allas and Ajil, were seized by IS militants following the June 10 blitzkrieg when the group seized large swathes of territories in predominantly Sunni provinces.

The oil fields became an important source of funding for the IS group, which extracted about 10,000 bpd and transported to others areas under its control.

The battles in the oil fields were part of an offensive began on Friday when the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of the second phase of offensive to dislodge the extremist IS militants from their stronghold in the city of Hawijah and surrounding areas.

“We announce the start of the second phase of the liberation of Hawijah and all the surrounding areas to the west of Kirkuk, and as promised the sons of our country are continuing to liberate every inch of the land of Iraq and crush the gangs of terrorist Daesh group,” said Abadi in a statement.

The first phase of the operation was launched on Sept. 21 to liberate Hawijah in the western part of Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province.

The operation to free Hawijah came as tensions are running high between Baghdad government and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan after the Kurdish region held a controversial referendum on independence of Kurdistan and disputed areas, including Kirkuk.

The independence referendum was opposed by many countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and it could undermine fight against Islamic State militants.

In addition, neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *