Rush to leave ISIS-held city in Iraq

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

More than 4,000 peo­ple have fled the ISIS-held city of Fal­lu­jah in Iraq af­ter gov­ern­ment forces re­took a key road to the ISIS strong­hold over the week­end, an aid group said yes­ter­day.

Along with road­side bombs planted by the mil­i­tants, an es­ti­mated 50,000 civil­ians who re­main trapped in­side Fal­lu­jah, lo­cated about 65 kilo­me­tres west of Baghdad, have slowed down the Iraqi forces’ op­er­a­tion to re­cap­ture the city.

Fal­lu­jah has been un­der ISIS con­trol for more than two years - the last ma­jor city in western Iraq still held by the ex­trem­ist group.

The mil­i­tants have threat­ened any­one who at­tempts to flee with death and last week they re­port­edly shot at a group of civil­ians at­tempt­ing to flee across the Euphrates River.

The Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil (NRC), which works with refugees and in­ter­nally dis­placed Iraqis, said the 4,000 who fled since Satur­day bring the to­tal num­ber of res­i­dents who es­caped Fal­lu­jah since the Iraqi of­fen­sive started in late May to 27,580. Thousands more are ex­pected to take the risky jour­ney in the com­ing hours, NRC said, adding that some refugees re­ported ISIS mil­i­tants were de­mand­ing around $130, from each per­son to let them leave. The aid group warned that hu­man­i­tar­ian re­sources are run­ning low and called for at least $10 million for a six months’ sup­ply of wa­ter, food and ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties.

“Thousands of oth­ers re­main trapped in­side and the most vul­ner­a­ble will need ur­gent as­sis­tance,” said NRC Coun­try Di­rec­tor in Iraq Nasr Mu­flahi. On Sun­day, the Iraqi com­mand an­nounced that key ar­eas to the west of Fal­lu­jah have been taken and that Iraqi forces pushed deeper into the city from its south­ern edges.

US-trained Iraqi forces, wary of com­ing street bat­tles in the city, are al­ready fac­ing fierce re­sis­tance on the out­skirts from mil­i­tants.

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