Reports from Fox News have confirmed that Iraqi leadership announced the full liberation of Fallujah from ISIS forces. Celebrations are underway because now, approximately five weeks after a military operation was launched, an Iraqi commander announced that the city of Fallujah had been “fully liberated” from the Islamic State group known as ISIS. The announcement has offered a major shot in the arm to the nation’s political leadership, as well as its security, as it surges forward in the fight against extremists.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) June 26, 2016
Fallujah was the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS. The fall took place more than two years ago. The liberation of the city means that authorities can set new sights on Mosul, which is currently controlled by militants and is also Iraq’s second largest city.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed that the next Iraqi flag would be raised over Mosul while he celebrated with troops in Fallujah. Progress is being made toward that end. However, the effort has moved ahead in spurts. According to reports by Fox News, the campaign has revealed deep divisions among the varied groups that make up the Iraqi security forces.
Lt. General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who is the head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation, said that Iraqi troops entered the northwest part of the city in Fallujah’s al-Julan neighborhood and now the last part of the city is under control.
— Jon Gambrell جون (@jongambrellAP) June 27, 2016
The operation in question began May 22. According to al-Saadi, the work “is done, and the city is fully liberated.”
Al-Abadi wore the black battle dress of the counterterrorism forces and carried an Iraqi flag while he visited Fallujah’s central hospital Sunday evening. He also called for residents of the city, which is located west of Baghdad, to celebrate the military advancement.
Tens of thousands of citizens from Fallujah had to flee their homes during the operation. Those citizens are still confined to overcrowded camps with limited living facilities in the Anbar desert. The coalition, led by the United States, said it was still making airstrikes in the area and aid groups believed it was too early to say when residents could return to their homes withing the city limits. The aid groups further stated that the presence of homemade bombs left behind by the militants was reason enough to delay the return home.
“From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief… and declare that the Fallujah fight is over,” al-Saadi told Iraqi TV, surrounded by troops.
Reportedly, ISIS militants had held out for over a week on the north and west borders of Fallujah, but the group collapsed early Sunday, under a spray of firepower delivered by coalition fighter planes. As part of that widespread spray, a single airstrike killed 47 fighters in the neighborhood of Jolan, said Brig. Haider al-Obeidi, a member of Iraq’s special forces.
The operation in Fallujah was completed by Iraq’s elite counterterrorism troops, as well as Iraqi federal police, Anbar provincial police, and a group of government-authorized militia fighters, primarily Shiites, who have been dubbed the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Troops sang, waved flags, and shot their weapons into the air.
“The coalition continues to provide support through strikes, intelligence, and advice and assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces operating in Fallujah and will continue to do so through deliberate clearing operations,” said U.S. Army Col. Christopher Garver. Garver is the spokesman for the coalition.
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