80% of Fallujah retaken: Iraqi military commander

80% of Fallujah retaken: Iraqi military commander

Iraqi forces have established control over some four fifths of Daesh-held city, army commander asserts

By Suleiman al-Qubaisi and Othman al-Shalash

BAGHDAD (AA) – The Iraqi army has managed to recapture some 80 percent of the city of Fallujah from the Daesh terrorist group, Army General Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

"Counter-terrorism forces, local and federal police units, and Iraqi army troops have established control over 80 percent of the city center," al-Saadi, who is leading the campaign to retake Fallujah, said.

"Daesh now only remains in control of the Al-Muallimeen and Al-Julan neighborhoods, along with Al-Thirthar Street north of the city center," he added.

He went on to note, however, that running street battles continued to rage between the two warring camps in several parts of the city.

"Iraqi forces are now trying to push into Daesh-held areas amid stiff resistance by the militants," al-Saadi said.

Earlier this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi had declared victory in Fallujah after army troops seized control of a main government complex in the city center.

Walid al-Duleimi, another army commander taking part in the campaign to retake Fallujah, told Anadolu Agency that, for the last four days, Iraqi security forces had faced stiff resistance in Fallujah’s Al-Julan district -- considered one of Daesh’s last strongholds in the city.

According to al-Duleimi, at least 19 Iraqi troops were killed and another 23 injured over the last four-day period.

The Iraqi army hopes to retake Fallujah and surrounding areas before staging a major attack on the Daesh-held city of Mosul (located roughly 400 kilometers north of the capital) from the south, east and north.

Iraqi army operations to retake Fallujah from Daesh first began on May 23.

Located along the Euphrates River about 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of capital Baghdad, Fallujah is believed to be home to some 90,000 residents.

Iraq has suffered a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when Daesh captured the northern city of Mosul and overran large swathes of territory in the northern and western parts of the country.

According to the UN, more than 3.4 million people are now displaced in Iraq -- more than half of them children -- while more than 10 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

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