Iraq forces retake Fallujah government HQ, say commanders
BAGHDAD – Agence France-PresseIraqi forces retook the main government compound in the center of the jihadist bastion of Fallujah from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 17, top commanders said.
“The counter-terrorism service and the rapid response forces have retaken the government compound in the center of Fallujah,” the operation’s overall commander, Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, told AFP.
Raed Shaker Jawdat, Iraq’s federal police chief, confirmed the advance, which marks a significant step in the nearly four-week-old offensive to retake the city.
“The liberation of the government compound, which is the main landmark in the city, symbolizes the restoration of the state’s authority” in Fallujah, he said.
Both commanders said their forces had met limited resistance from ISIL fighters during the push into the city center.
The government lost control of Fallujah in 2014, months before ISIL took second city Mosul and swept across large parts of the country.
Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake Fallujah, which lies only 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, last month.
The advance of pro-government forces has since been slow, with Fallujah’s status as an emblematic ISIL stronghold and a tight siege by Iraqi forces ensuring holdout jihadists have few options other than fighting to the death.