Wednesday 7 December 2016

Iraqi forces surround Fallujah for final attack

Qassim Abdul-Zahra

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism forces arrive to join the forces surrounding Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Khalid Mohammed
Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism forces arrive to join the forces surrounding Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Khalid Mohammed

Iraq's special forces completed a troop build-up around Fallujah yesterday ahead of an operation to retake the Isil-held city west of Baghdad, a military officer said, as the militants attacked a newly-liberated town to the west.

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Teaming up with paramilitary troops and backed by aerial support from the US-led coalition, the government launched a large-scale offensive to dislodge Isil militants from Fallujah a week ago.

The city, about 65km west of Baghdad, is one of the last major Isil strongholds in Iraq. The extremist group still controls territory in the country's north and west, including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

The last battalion from Iraq's Special Forces Service arrived at dawn yesterday at the sprawling Tariq Camp outside Fallujah, said Major Dhia Thamir.

He declined to comment on troop numbers or the timing of the expected assault.

Battling

He said troops have recaptured 80pc of the territory around the city since the operation began and are currently battling Isil to the northeast as they seek to tighten the siege ahead of a planned final push into the city centre.

In a televised speech to parliament, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi said the "current second phase of the Fallujah operation" will last less than 48 hours, after which the offensive to recapture the city will begin.

Irish Independent

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