Iraqi commander says 2,500 ISIL militants killed in Fallujah
BAGHDAD – The Associated Press
Reuters PhotoIraqi government forces on June 21 dislodged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from two northern neighborhoods of Fallujah as an Iraqi military commander claimed the month-long offensive to recapture the city had left 2,500 ISIL militants dead.
The announcements came just days after the government had declared the liberation of Fallujah, the last bastion of ISIL in the sprawling western Anbar province.
With aerial support from the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi special forces took control of the neighborhoods of al-Shurta and al-Jughaifi, special forces’ Brig. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi told The Associated Press.
He said Iraqi military engineers were clearing the streets and buildings of left-over bombs.
Teaming up with paramilitary troops and backed by the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi government forces launched the large-scale Fallujah operation in late May. On June 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory after special forces entered the city center, capturing government buildings and the central hospital.
In Syria, U.S.’ Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk tweeted that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had defeated ISIL counterattacks over the last 24 hours and was moving into Manbij city limits, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL had launched a counter-attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the U.S.-backed forces.
The monitor said the militants won back three villages south of the besieged city in a surprise assault against fighters from the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces. At least 28 SDF fighters were killed.
ISIL has launched a counteroffensive in Syria’s northern province of Raqqa, retaking wide areas the militants recently lost to government troops, the Observatory said, adding that the government forces have lost all territories they gained in Raqqa province since launching their offensive in early June.
The ISIL-linked Aamaq news agency posted a video showing the extremists in control of Thawra oil field as warplanes strike nearby.
Meanwhile, six Jordanian border guards were killed by a car bomb in a remote area of the frontier with Syria on Tuesday during an attack launched from Syrian territory, security officials said.
The explosives-laden vehicle blew up a few hundred meters from a camp for Syrian refugees in a desolate eastern area of Jordan where the borders of Iraq, Syria and Jordan meet, a Jordanian army statement said.