Iraq begins massive operation to reclaim landmark city from ISIS

isia{BNN / BAGHDAD, Iraq} – A day after making the announcement, Iraq has now proceeded ahead with launching a military campaign to reclaim its landmark city Fallujah from the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group.

The Sunni-dominated city in Anbar province, Fallujah has stood witness of two major battles during the Iraq War and is said to have been grabbed by ISIS in January 2014.

Reports have quoted unnamed security officials as claiming that about 20,000 federal police soldiers were part of the operation to recapture the city from militants and about 15,000 more troops were expected to join. However, even before the battle began Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addressed the nation and urged civilians in Fallujah to move to safe quarters.

Prime Minister Abadi informed the country about the onset of the operation in a televised statement from the military’s Joint Operations Command in Baghdad.

Abadi reportedly claimed that “Iraqi forces had begun a military campaign to retake the ISIS stronghold of Fallujah.” Adding that the offensive against the strategic city promises “a moment of great victory.”

Abadi also told the nation, “We will tear down the black banners of the strangers who kidnapped the city. The clock of Fallujah liberation has rung, and the final victory is close.”

He however stressed that Iraqi security forces had made all the arrangements to ensure that a safe passage is provided for civilians to leave the city during the operation.

Abadi’s statement came merely a few hours after Iraq’s military urged Fallujah’s residents to flee their homes. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command further said in a statement that Iraqi planes had dropped thousands of leaflets and safe passage cards on Fallujah. Families were reportedly also told to raise a white flag about their homes if they were unable to escape the city. An emergency line has also been set up for families to call or text to seek evacuation.

In the past few months, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition air support have been able to reclaim several key territories from ISIS, including Anbar, Rutba, Ramadi amongst others.

Meanwhile, in the capital city of Baghdad, Abadi’s office and the prime minister’s spokesperson, Saad al-Hadithi reportedly released a preliminary investigation and statement claiming that the police and military guards had not fired directly into the crowd of demonstrators.

Situation outside Baghdad’s Green Zone intensified after fresh clashes ensued between Iraqi security forces and protesters demanding government reform on May 21. Security officials had been accused of opening fire on protesters who tried to force their way into the highly fortified Green Zone that houses Iraqi government ministries and foreign embassies. Reports had then claimed that over a 100 people were injured and two people died after security forces fire tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition to bring protesters under control.

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About Cholo Brooks 15629 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.