Iraqi forces score breakthrough into IS stronghold in Fallujah
People's Daily Online
(Xinhua) 10:38, June 05, 2016
FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Saturday pushed into the besieged city of Fallujah and seized part of a district in southern the city after fierce clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants, a security source told Xinhua.
The troops have made a significant breakthrough in the day when they pushed into the al-Nuaimia district after defeating the IS defensive line in southern Fallujah, some 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The latest advance put the troops in new positions at the edges of adjacent districts of Shuhadaa and Jubail in southern Fallujah, the source said.
"The troops still have more than three kilometers of urban areas to reach the government compound in the central part of Fallujah," the source added.
Meanwhile, the source said that U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombarded IS positions in Shuhadaa district and killed at least nine IS militants.
The alliance's warplanes also bombarded IS militants in Azragiyah area in northwest of Fallujah, leaving 16 extremist militants dead and four of their vehicles destroyed, the source added.
In addition, the security forces repelled an attack of dozens of IS militants in Albu Hawa area in south of Fallujah, on the western bank of Euphrates River, killing some 24 IS militants, the source said without giving further details about casualties among the security forces.
Earlier in the day, the security forces and allied paramilitary Shiite and Sunni units, known as Hashd Shaabi, entered around noon Saqlawiyah in northwest of Fallujah and recaptured the central part of the town, a security source anonymously told Xinhua.
The troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, took control of the government building and raised the Iraqi flag, while fierce clashes continued to drive out IS fighters from the southern part of the town, the source said.
The advance in Saqlawiyah came after several days of clashes with the extremist militants.
The troops' advance into Fallujah was slowed down during the past few days by heavy resistance from IS inside the city, in addition to hundreds of hidden bombs are believed to be planted by the militants.
The security forces also wanted to 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.
On Wednesday, the UN children fund warned that at least 20,000 Iraqi children remain trapped in the city of Fallujah where Iraqi security forces are fighting to drive out the extremist IS militants from the city.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on May 23 the launch of a major offensive to claim Fallujah and surrounding towns and areas.
Government troops and allied militias have currently been fighting for months to reclaim key cities and towns in Anbar from IS militants, who attempted to advance towards Baghdad after seizing most of Anbar province.
Iraq is currently witnessing a wave of violence since the IS controlled parts of Iraq's northern and western regions in June 2014.
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