Islamic State forces still control a small pocket of villages to the north and east of the town, but are now surrounded.
As tensions mount between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, several Iranian-backed group have deployed more troops to contested areas near Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu. As both sides remain steadfast in their claims to the oil rich province, tensions continue to mount and the risk of military escalation rises.
The Islamic State’s Al Bayan radio station has released several religious lectures dealing with an internal controversy over takfir, the practice of excommunicating other Muslims and denouncing “polytheists.” The so-called caliphate tried to quell the controversy by repealing a problematic memo earlier this month.
The Iraqi government launched a new offensive against the Islamic State in the Hawijah pocket earlier today. Hawijah is considered one of the group’s two remaining strongholds inside Iraq. The other is in the western Anbar province, where the Iraqi government began new operations on Sept. 19.
After pro-Syrian regime forces broke the siege of Deir Ezzor city this month, Lebanese Hezbollah media outlet Al Mayadeen released a rare interview with Hezbollah field commander “al Haj Abu Mustafa,” crediting the gray-bearded, southern Lebanese native with playing a key role in leading the defense against the Islamic State.
On Aug. 29, the Treasury Department announced that Salim Mustafa Muhammad al-Mansur had been added to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. The move was made in conjunction with the Iraqi government. Al-Mansur served as the Islamic State’s “finance emir for Mosul,” Iraq as of earlier this year, but he has “moved to Turkey.”
The US-led coalition carried out an air strike to block Islamic State fighters from reaching eastern Syria after they were evacuated from Lebanon. As part of the deal, the Islamic State was to hand over the body of an IRGC fighter who has become a household name in Iran.
Kata’ib Imam Ali and Kata’ib al Sabriun join other IRGC-controlled Iraqi Shia militias training inside Syria.