Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Iraqi forces announced Thursday the liberation of the city of Hawija in southwestern Kirkuk, previously held by the Islamic State.
Top general Abdul-Amir Yarallah said the joint forces of the army, federal police, rapid response forces and allied militias have cleared the city of Islamic State militants as they continue to liberate surrounding areas.
"The Iraqi federal police, Rapid Response team, and the Hashd al-Shaabi have been able to regain control of the Hawija central district," Yarallah said in a statement.
The Iraqi forces invaded the center of the city Wednesday after seizing 98 villages and killing 198 militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or IS.
In western Anbar province, only the towns of Rawa and Qaim remain under Islamic State control.
The operation to retake Hawija began in September and the city had been under control of the jihadist group since 2014. Hawija became the main Islamic State stronghold in Iraq after the country's forces liberated Mosul.
Government forces warned the jihadist militants and Hawija residents that the end of the Islamic State's control of the city would soon come to an end by dropping dozens of leaflets in September.