An Iraqi air raid on Islamic State’s havens in southwestern Kirkuk killed the group’s chief “iinvestigator” and companions, intelligence sources said Wednesday.
Alsumaria News quoted the sources saying that Abu Omar al-Iraqi was killed when an Islamic State security unit was bombarded by Iraqi air forces in central Hawija, the group’s bastion in Kirkuk. Four of his companions were also killed in the raid, according to the sources.
The offensive prompted several fighters to leave their positions, the sources added.
The Iraqi government said late August that Hawija, which IS has held since 2014, was the next target of its operations against the extremist group. The government troops had, so far, recaptured Mosul, IS’s former capital, and the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul.
On Sunday, Dubai-based Al Arabiya network many of Islamic State’s senior leaders had fled Hawija along with their families. It also said more than 15 U.S. army vehicles deployed at al-Farraj, a region 90 kilometers southeast of Mosul on the borders with Kirkuk, preparing to back up Iraqi forces in their anticipated offensives.
The United Nations had predicted at least 114.000 civilians to flee Hawija as the battle starts.
Last week, Yahia Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said there were 2000 Islamic State militants inside Hawija.