Iraqi troops push forward around Fallujah
BAGHDADOn the third day of an offensive on Iraqi city of Fallujah, Iraqi troops backed by pro-government militias have advanced toward the city from surrounding areas.
On May 25, forces from Iraq’s 8th Division bolstered by tribal fighters pushed forward from areas to its south, said Staff Major General Ismail al-Mahalawi, the head of the Operations Command for Iraq’s Anbar province, according to AFP.
U.S.-led coalition warplanes and Iraqi aircraft were providing support, Mahalawi said.
A resident which Reuters contacted via the Internet, said that on the morning of May 25, Iraqi troops concentrated artillery fire on Fallujah’s northern and northeastern neighborhoods.
A Fallujah hospital source said that six civilians were killed and 11 wounded on May 25, raising the overall death toll since the May 23 launch of the government offensive to 35 - 21 civilians and 14 militants.
“Fierce fighting is now raging around the city,” Save the Children said in a statement on May 25, calling for safe civilian exit routes to be established as quickly as possible.
Fallujah’s population is around 100,000, according to U.S. and Iraqi government estimates.
The offensive is part of a government campaign to roll back the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s (ISIL) seizure of wide tracts of northern and western Iraq. Baghdad’s forces retook Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital near Fallujah, in December 2015 but have not yet tackled a bigger challenge - ISIL-held Mosul, Iraq’s largest northern city.