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Starving Families Flee Encircled, IS-Controlled City In Northern Iraq

Reports from northern Iraq say hundreds of families have been fleeing hunger and rule by Islamic State (IS) militants in the city of Hawijah and the surrounding area.

Reports say many have been dying on the dangerous journey in a bid to reach Iraqi security forces, which have moved closer to the city of Hawijah after recent gains against IS militants in other parts of Iraq.

Colonel Fattah al-Khafaji, the police chief in charge of the Hawijah region, said on January 10 that entire families had been walking for two days or more through the Hamrin mountains in freezing whether to reach an area near Al-Fatha.

That is where Iraqi security forces have been receiving and assisting fleeing families every day for the past week.

Hawijah, about 220 kilometers north of Baghdad, remains an IS stronghold but is encircled by forces that are moving in on all sides.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces now hold positions north and east of the city while Iraqi government forces and Shi'ite tribal fighters have been advancing from the south and west.

Based on reporting by BBC and AFP