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Iraqi forces enter heart of Daesh-held part of Kirkuk

IRAQI FORCES ENTER HEART OF DAESH-HELD PART OF KIRKUK

Iraqi forces on Wednesday advanced to the center of the Daesh-held Hawija district in Iraq's northern Kirkuk province, according to local media.

Joint security forces -- including elements of the Iraqi army, police and the Hashd al-Shaabi (a Shia military force) -- have successfully pushed their way into the district center, state television reported.

Last Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of the second phase of an ongoing campaign to recapture the district.

Along with Hawija, Daesh's rapidly diminishing presence in Iraq is now largely confined to the towns of Rawa and Al-Qaim in the western Anbar province near the Syrian border.

After overrunning vast territories in both Iraq and Syria in mid-2014, Daesh has recently suffered a string of defeats at the hands of the Iraqi military and a U.S.-led coalition.

In August, the group lost Tal Afar in Iraq's northern Nineveh province. And one month earlier, the city of Mosul -- once the capital of Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate" -- fell to the army after a nine-month siege.

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