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PMU spearheads Hawija battle, as IS fighters 'vanish'

A long-besieged pocket of Islamic State-held territory and surrounding villages in north-central Iraq have been retaken by a mixture of local Sunni and non-local Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units, alongside Defense and Interior Ministry forces.

HAWIJA, Iraq — The initial push into the Sunni city of Hawija as part of anti-Islamic State operations on Oct. 4 was spearheaded by a Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) force known as the Ali al-Akbar Brigade, according to both locals and the leaders of the group itself.

Al-Monitor accompanied the Ali al-Akbar Brigade on Oct. 5 as it cleared the city center and several residential areas with tanks and infantry, meeting only a few snipers and suicide attackers.

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