Iraqi troops re-take control of city
A senior Iraqi commander has declared the city of Fallujah “fully liberated” from ISIS militants, after a more than month-long military operation.
Iraqi troops have entered the northwestern Al Julan neighbourhood, the last area of Fallujah to remain under ISIS control, the head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab Al Saadi, said yesterday.
Al Saadi said the operation, which began in late May, “is done and the city is fully liberated.”
The Iraqi army was backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and paramilitary troops, mostly Shia militias.
“From the centre of Al Julan neighbourhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief... and declare that the Fallujah fight is over,” he told Iraqi state TV, flanked by military officers and soldiers. Some of the sol- diers were shooting in the air, chanting and waving the Iraqi flag.
He added that troops will start working on removing bombs from the city’s streets and buildings.
The announcement comes more than a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared victory in Fallujah after Iraqi forces advanced into the city centre and took control of a government complex.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 85,000 people have fled Fallujah and the surrounding area since the offensive began. Like other aid agencies, the UNHCR warned of the dire conditions in the camps, where temperatures are well over 40C and shelter is limited, calling for more funds to meet the mounting needs.
Fallujah has been under the control of ISIS militants since January 2014.
VICTORY: Iraqi troops in Fallujah