Iraqi forces gain ground in Fal­lu­jah

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

FAL­LU­JAH, IRAQ—Iraqi se­cu­rity forces on Thurs­day fought fierce clashes with Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants and re­took con­trol of an area near the IS-held city of Fal­lu­jah in Iraq’s western prov­ince of An­bar, while the U.S.-led air strikes con­tin­ued against IS po­si­tions out­side the city, a mil­i­tary state­ment and a se­cu­rity source said.

The troops and al­lied para­mil­i­tary Shi­ite and Sunni units, known as Hashd Shaabi, had re­cap­tured al-Tuf­faha vil­lage and raised the Iraqi flag on nearby re­mains of a bridge in south of Fal­lu­jah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi cap­i­tal of Bagh­dad, the state­ment from Hashd Shaabi me­dia of­fice said with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails.

Mean­while, the se­cu­rity forces and Hashd Shaabi units con­tin­ued their bat­tles around the IS-held town of Saqlawiyah in north­west of Fal­lu­jah, in an at­tempt to free the town from IS mil­i­tants.

The troops’ ad­vance to­ward Fal­lu­jah was slowed down but the bat­tles with IS mil­i­tants con­tin­ued around the city as the troops have been fac­ing fierce re­sis­tance from the ex­trem­ist mil­i­tants inside the city, in ad­di­tion to hun­dreds of hid­den bombs are be­lieved to be planted by the mil­i­tants to ham­per the ad­vance of the troops.

The se­cu­rity forces also wanted avoid heavy ca­su­al­ties among tens of thou­sands of civil­ians who are re­port­edly trapped inside Fal­lu­jah.

Ear­lier, Bri­gadier Gen­eral Yahya Ra­soul, spokesman for the Joint Mil­i­tary Com­mand, said that in­tel­li­gence re­ports in­di­cate that about 400 to 600 mil­i­tants are in Fal­lu­jah, many of them for­eign­ers. He said about 50,000 to 70,000 civil­ians are ex­pected to re­main in Fal­lu­jah.

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