Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Iraqi forces have retaken most of Fallujah from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as clearing operations are under way to flush out the armed group's remaining fighters in the city. The government lost control of Fallujah in 2014, months before ISIL, also known as ISIS, took Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, and swept across large parts of the country. "We promised you the liberation of Fallujah and we retook it. Our security forces control the city except for small pockets that need to be cleared within the coming hours," Abadi said on Friday in a brief address on state TV. "Fallujah has returned to the nation and Mosul is the next battle," Abadi also said on Twitter.
Iraqi special forces launched an assault one of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's most emblematic bastions, Fallujah, as the group counter-attacked in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Quoting commanders, agencies confirmed the assault was launched in the early hours of Monday morning. Troops entered the city from three directions. Explosions and gunfire could be heard in Fallujah's southern Naimiya district, Reuters reported. Fighting on Monday followed battles a day earlier that prompted a new exodus of thousands of desperate civilians from the surrounding areas and deep concern for the many more trapped in the battlegrounds.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of military operations to retake the Islamic State-held held city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in a televised address on Sunday night. Al-Abadi's announcement comes at a time when Iraqi ground forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air support are gaining territory against IS, most recently in Iraq's vast western Anbar province. Since then, successful operations against IS have largely been led by the country's powerful Shiite militias or Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces closely backed by coalition airstrikes. Clashes between protesters and Iraqi security forces inside Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone compound -- which houses most Iraqi government ministries and foreign embassies -- left two people dead after security forces fired tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
BAGHDAD/FALLUJAH., IRAQ – Sniper fire by Islamic State militants killed a senior Iraqi commander near the northern Islamic State-held city of Mosul, the extremist group's main bastion in Iraq, as the U.N. refugee agency warned that thousands of civilians have been newly displaced from that area. Iraq's Defense Ministry said late Tuesday that Brig. Ahmed Badr al-Luhaibi, the commander of Brigade 71st of Division 15, was killed by a sniper during an operation to retake a village south of Mosul. The statement lauded al-Luhaibi as a "knight" and said his death would "increase our determination to clear" the entire province of Nineveh, where Mosul is the provincial capital, of Islamic State militants. Mosul -- Iraq's second-largest city -- fell to the Islamic State group during the militants' June 2014 onslaught that captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq and also almost a third of neighboring Syria.
Iraqi forces are facing tough resistance on the outskirts of Fallujah, as they attempt to retake the key city held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS group), where there are mounting fears for more than 50,000 civilians trapped there. Lieutenant-General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the commander of the operation, said ISIL fighters launched a fierce counter-attack on Naimiyah, a suburb south of Fallujah early on Tuesday before the armed group was repelled. Those who make the decision of trying to flee know that at every step they might find death. "There were around 100 fighters involved, they came at us heavily armed but did not use car bombs or suicide bombers," he told the AFP news agency. Saadi said Iraqi forces, which also include police and army units, were eventually able to repel the attack, killing 75 ISIL fighters.