The expected recapture of the town of Tikrit by Iraqi forces will be a significant loss for the Islamic militants, ISIS, once the Iraqi forces confirm total control of the town.
According to the extremists, the town of Tikrit has been their “home” since they captured the town last year.
The ongoing gradual retake of the town which ISIS claims to be a pure propaganda by the Iraqi forces has however pushed ISIS to begin seeking refuge in Hawija town.
This, according to them is not a sign that they have lost the battle but a strategic move to fully establish the group in Hawija, preventing any loopholes which would aid external forces to penetrate into Hawija.
Sources confirm that the Peshmerga and the Shia militias known as the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF) have been stationed around ISIS-held Hawija, in Krikuk province, to prevent militants in the town from reinforcing those battling the Iraqi joint forces in Tikrit.
However, ISIS militants have continued to strategize themselves in Hawija in the event of an attack on the town should Tikrit completely fall.
Hawija is located 117km North of Tikrit, in Sunni-majority Salahaddin province, and 30km south of Kirkuk. ISIS has therefore resorted to move into the Sunni populated town as a good number of the militants belong to the Sunni tribe.
Although the militant’s forces is majorly comprise of the Sunni tribe, some Sunni tribes, such as local Abed tribes, have however expressed willingness to fight ISIS along with the Peshmerga and PMF in liberating Hawija.
Hawija town is a mostly Sunni Muslim town which lies off a major highway leading to Mosul and the capital Baghdad.