Iraqi forces have encircled Fallujah as part of a massive military operation to liberate the central city from the grip of the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group.
Iraqi forces“We are advancing on and closing in,” Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier Rasool Yahya said, adding, “Our forces have isolated and surrounded the city of Fallujah,” Yahya told Qatar’s al-Jazeera television.
The first phase of the liberation operation was completed, he said, adding, “We have achieved our objectives.”
Leader of Popular Mobilization (Al-Hashd al-Shaabi) units in Anbar Province announced on Saturday the beginning of the second phase of the Fallujah liberation a week since the battle began.
Some 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the city, with the United Nations saying it has reports of people dying of starvation and for refusing to fight for ISIL.
On Saturday, Iraqi forces said they had found underground tunnels dug by the extremists to approach and escape the Fallujah frontline.
Fallujah, located just 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, fell to ISIL hands in January 2014.
In a similar development on Sunday, Iraqi forces thwarted an attack by ISIL on the city of Hit in Anbar Province, killing 60 Takfiri militants.
Fierce clashes erupted between the Iraqi army soldiers and ISIL in which commander of the Iraqi special force Fazel al-Namravi was injured, Iraq’s al-Sumaria satellite TV network reported.
According to the report, 33 ISIL members trying to enter Hit with their explosives were neutralized.