Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared a military operation to reclaim the city of Fallujah in a television broadcast on early Monday. Fallujah is currently the Islamic State group stronghold and the extremists has controlled it for more than two years. However, al-Abadi says “Zero hour for the liberation of Fallujah has arrived. The moment of great victory has drawn near and Daesh has no choice but to flee.”
Iraqi security forces literally has Fallujah surrounded. On Iraqi TV, Brid. Gen Yahya Rasoul called “citizens who are inside Fallujah to leave their areas and head towards safe corridors. In the coming few days, the operations to liberate Fallujah will be launched.” Many families tried to escape and some were captured or killed by the militants. Shiite militias called Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Iraqi security forces managed to rescue 30 families who fled the city on Saturday.
Residents could not escape as the checkpoints are under close guard of the militants. They are required to raise a white flag above their homes when the operations begins.
In 2004, U.S. troops attack Fallujah, the insurgent stronghold, and it was one of the heaviest fighting and bloodiest battle during the Iraq War.
Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, said taking back Fallujah provides a protection to Baghdad from Islamic State bombings. He also mentioned that the city is “a safe haven for (the Islamic State group) where they can construct their bombs and plan their operations in relatively close proximity to Baghdad.”