Iraq steps up strikes on IS-held Hawija ahead of offensive

Iraq's defense minister says the Iraqi air force and the U.S.-led coalition have stepped up a campaign of airstrikes on the Islamic State group-held town of Hawija ahead of a planned ground assault there.

Iraqi forces are pushing IS out of the remaining pockets of territory the group holds in the country after forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook Iraq's second largest city of Mosul in July.

Last month, the Iraqi military command overseeing the IS fight announced Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, would be the next battle against the extremists.

Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan al-Hayali says his forces have begun radio broadcasts and leaflet drops on the town warning civilians of the planned push.