200 families return to refugee camps due to IS attacks in Iraq's Kirkuk

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-27 23:58:22|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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TIKRIT, Iraq, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- About 200 families returned to refugee camps in central Iraq's Salahudin province on Wednesday as attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants increased recently in neighboring Kirkuk province, an official told Xinhua.

"The Tal al-Seibat refugee camp in northern part of the town of al-Alam, some 30 km east of Salahudin's provincial capital Tikrit, has received some 200 families who left their homes, mainly in the town of Ryadh, Rashad and Abbasi and villages in Hawijah Pocket in southwestern part of Kirkuk province," the official from the local government of Alam said on condition of anonymity.

During the past few months, hundreds of families returned to their homes in Hawijah area after the Iraqi security forces dislodged IS militants from their redoubts in Hawijah, but the almost daily attacks, killings and abductions by remnants of IS militants recently pushed the families to flee their homes again, the official said.

The extremist militants are controlling the areas near the rivers Tigris and Zab and Himreen mountainous area, and are carrying out attacks on the towns and villages of Hawijah area, he added.

Khalaf al-Obeidi, a resident of a village near the town of Ryadh, told Xinhua that he and his family fled their home to save their lives.

"The Iraqi forces cannot secure us; Daesh (IS) militants are taking control of most of our villages and roads during the night," Obeidi said.

On Sunday, IS militants set up a fake checkpoint on a road connecting the town of Ryadh and Hawijah in Kirkuk province, and intercepted a car carrying five people, including Colonel Fadhel al-Sab'awi, head of a police station, and shot them dead.

During the past few months, dozens of IS militants fled their former bases in Salahudin province and Hawijah area west of Kirkuk after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas during major anti-IS offensives.

On Dec. 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.

However, small groups and individuals of IS militants melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas in many areas in Iraq looking for safe havens.

They are still capable of carrying out attacks from time to time against the security forces and civilians.