Hawija district has approximately 450,000 inhabitants, about 98 percent of them Sunni Arabs and the rest mostly Sunni Turkmens. Most of the inhabitants live in rural areas.
During the Iraq War, U.S. and Iraqi forces experienced numerous lethal attacks in the area from Sunni insurgents. As of March 2006, the area of Hawija was considered one of the most dangerous in all of Iraq with US soldiers and the foreign press corps in Baghdad dubbing Hawija "Anbar of the North," a reference to the violence wracked province in Western Iraq.
Following the Iraq War, Hawija came into media focus on 19 April 2013, when an unprecedented amount of violence erupted. In the 2013 Hawija clashes between Sunni protesters and Iraqi Army, some 53 people were killed. Later death toll with involvement of Sunni insurgents, brought the total death toll of associated events to 215 by April 27.
During Iraq War
The closest US base to Hawija is Forward Operating Base McHenry. FOB McHenry was established in 2003 by Alpha Company 1-12 infantry who had been operating out of an abandoned school in the town of Hawija. From January 2004 through February 2005 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry (1-27 IN) Wolfhounds, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light) was led under the command of LTC Scott C. Leith and CSM Karl Morgan. On April 7, 2004 The Battle of Hawija commenced with A (Alpha) company, 1st battalion 27th Infantry regiment led under the command of CPT Scott W. Carpenter from the 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii and has been compared to the Tet Offensive from Vietnam.
In From February 2005 through October 2006 FOB McHenry was home to around 500 US soldiers from Idaho's 116th Cavlary Brigade, 1 Battalion 163rd Infantry Regiment (1-163rd IN) from Montana better known as Grizzly. March 2006, Soldiers in 1st Battalion 327th infantry regiment at FOB McHenry were finding 3-5 road-side bombs a day. From November 1, 2005 through March 2006 medics treated 120 trauma cases. Nine members of the brigade as of March 2006 have died in combat in Hawija proper, most from a single company, C Co. 1-327th Inf, call sign 'Cold Steel.'
The battalion that replaced 1st Battalion 327th infantry regiment in August 2006 was the 2-27 wolfhounds from the 3rd BDE, 25th ID. During their 15 months at FOB McHenry, they experienced one of the deadliest periods of the war. Over 15 months, of the estimated 250 to 300 soldiers that were regularly going outside the wire on missions, 18 were KIA. The deadliest day was on 6 December 2006. 5 individuals were killed when a surface to air missile was modified into an IED, destroying the Humvee and killing everyone inside.
After U.S. withdrawal
According to open sources on 23 April 2013, Hawija became the focus of violent anti-government protest and deadly Government intervention tactics which left at least 27 Sunnis protesters shot dead, exacerbating political division and sectarian polarisation within Iraq. Later death toll of protests was 53, while associated violence resulted in 215 deaths by April 27.
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