TASNIM NEWS AGENCY/ TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iraqi army, backed by volunteer forces and military advisers, has launched a major offensive on the city of Fallujah from three directions to clear the city of members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, Iraqi commanders said.
Led by the elite counter-terrorism service (CTS), Iraq’s best trained and most seasoned fighting unit thrust into the city before dawn, Iraqi commanders said.
“Iraqi forces entered Fallujah under air cover from the Iraqi air force and army aviation, and supported by artillery and tanks,” said Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the commander of the operation, as cited by AFP.
“CTS forces, the Anbar (provincial) police and the Iraqi army, at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT), started moving into Fallujah from three directions,” he said.
“There is resistance from Daesh,” al-Saadi added.
CTS Spokesman Sabah al-Noman also said, “We started early this morning our operations to break into Fallujah.”
In relevant remarks, deputy head of the Iraqi volunteer forces, known as the Popular Mobilization Units or Hashid al-Shaabi, said the Iraqi troops had succeeded in breaking the ranks of terrorists in Fallujah, adding that nearly 1,000 remaining terrorists are trapped in the Daesh-held city.
Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes added that hundreds of civilians are making it out of the city, where they are being prevented by Daesh from exiting, with assistance from Iraqi forces.
He further stressed that the army has started the third phase of the city’s liberation vigilantly in order not to jeopardize innocent people’s lives.
The latest developments came after the Iraqi army and volunteer fighters seized control of a village in northern Fallujah late on Saturday, closing in on the city.
Iraqi media said Sunday that the forces recaptured the village of Siha in northern Fallujah.
The Iraqi army, supported by volunteer forces, began the operation to recapture Fallujah on May 23, first by tightening its siege around the city, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, and has now begun a direct assault.
In January 2014, Fallujah became the first Iraqi city to fall under the control of the militants, six months before they declared a caliphate over territory seized in Iraq and Syria.