Iraq army secures 'relatively safe' exit route out of Fallujah
Iran Press TV
Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:38PM
Iraq's army has secured the first "relatively safe" exit route for civilians attempting to flee the city of Fallujah amid operations by the government forces to retake key areas from the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
According to Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, who is the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, an exit route, known as al-Salam (Peace) Junction, was secured southwest of the city.
"There were exit routes previously, but this is the first to be completely secure and it's relatively safe," media outlets quoted Rasool as saying on Sunday.
Iraqi forces have been engaged in a major offensive to free Fallujah, located in the western province of Anbar. The large-scale push for the liberation of the city started on May 23.
Latest reports indicate that the forces have recently pushed back the terrorists from the strategic areas of Subeihat and Falahat, west of the city.
Thousands of civilians have been forced from their homes in Fallujah, while many more still remain trapped.
4,000 flee Fallujah using army's safe corridor
According to a Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Sunday, 4,000 Fallujah residents have fled the city in 24 hours using Iraqi army's safe corridor, AFP reported.
"The army opened a safe corridor for families fleeing from Fallujah through al-Salam intersection," an officer with the Joint Operations Command, which supervises the fight against Daesh, said.
Residents of Fallujah have been taking huge risks to flee the city, walking along mined roads and trying to cross the Euphrates River at any cost.
"The latest figure we have is that 4,000 individuals have managed to get out over the past 24 hours," the NRC's regional media adviser Karl Schembri said.
"We are of course relieved, but it also means we are completely overwhelmed as a humanitarian community," he added, warning that the available resources of safe drinking water would not meet the needs of all the displaced for much longer.
Schembri stated that the general aid effort in Iraq was massively underfunded, hampering the delivery of urgent relief.
In the short term, he said, the response to the Fallujah operation would require USD 10 million (8.9 million euros) over the next six months if another 35,000 people were displaced.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi recently announced that the offensive to liberate Fallujah has been slowed down due to fears for the safety of civilians being used as human shield. He also said safe corridors have been established to allow some civilians to exit.
In a separate development on Sunday, Iraqi troops managed to retake a village south of Mosul, a major city in the north that has been under the control of the terrorists since the summer of 2014. The Nineveh Operations Command said in a statement that government forces, equipped with tanks and armored vehicles, recaptured Kharaib Jabr on the western bank of the Tigris River.
The army forces are already advancing toward the village of Haj Ali, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Mosul.
Iraq's central government has announced that the army will launch a full-scale military campaign to retake Mosul after uprooting the terrorists in Fallujah.
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