Fallujah to fall sooner than expected: British general

Fallujah to fall sooner than expected: British general

Better coordination, adaption, lessons learned helping progress of Iraqi forces, anti-Daesh coalition senior officer says

By Kasim Ileri

WASHINGTON (AA) – Fallujah is expected to fall sooner than expected given the coordination and motivation among Iraqi forces, a senior official with the anti-Daesh coalition said Thursday.

“They are well over half way through and now very firmly in the northern part of the city,” said British Maj. Gen. Doug Chalmers.

“We've still got a while to go. But it's going to be far quicker than we probably had estimated - a couple of weeks ago,” he added.

Chalmers spoke to reporters via videoconference from Baghdad and credited the progress to “better coordination” among Iraqi federal police, the counter-terrorism service and commando elements of Iraqi armed forces.

Fallujah has been under Daesh control for more than two years.

“The Iraqi Security Forces have learned how to deal with some of these Daesh obstacles and how they fight. They have adapted as well,” Chalmers said.

The U.S.-led coalition is supporting the effort with an intense air campaign, according to the general, but the overall operation to retake the city has reportedly led to destruction and displacement of tens of thousands of civilians.

According to the general, Iraqis leaving the city are screened and questioned by Iraqi authorities and suspected Daesh supporters are detained.

On the other hand, reports, videos and pictures from the area have surfaced about Shia militias’ brutal treatment of predominantly Sunni refugees from Fallujah.

The Iraqi government and coalition also previously acknowledged that on some occasions Shia militias have beaten and tortured some Fallujah refugees, accusing them of supporting Daesh.

Regarding operations against Daesh in Syria, Chalmers said Russia’s bombing of U.S.-backed opposition forces in the south was “one of genuine surprise” for him.

Russian jets last week killed several fighters in a series of strikes on a rebel group battling Daesh near al-Tanf.

“It wasn't close to any of the regime forces. It was way outside of the normal pattern of Russian activity that we've seen,” he said referring to the rebel garrison.

He added that the strikes occurred despite continuing high-level calls between Russian and American officials about operations in the country.

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