Iraq announces operation to liberate Fallujah from ISIS

May 22, 2016  

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday night announced the beginning of military operations to retake the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, which is being held by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.

Iraqi forces are “approaching a moment of great victory” against ISIS, he said in a televised address, according to The Associated Press.

The announcement follows territorial gains elsewhere by Iraqi ground troops against ISIS, most recently the capture of the western town of Rutba, located 240 miles (380 kilometers) west of Baghdad, on the edge of Anbar province.

ISIS took over Fallujah as part of its takeover of significant patches of Iraqi territory in the country’s north, where it declared an Islamic caliphate in June of 2014.

Abadi’s announcement comes several weeks after a top ISIS leader in Iraq’s Anbar province was killed by a coalition airstrike.

The Pentagon announced that the man, Abu Wahib, was killed along with three others when their vehicle was struck on May 6 in Rutba.

A drone strike last month near ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, Raqa, killed Abu al-Hija, a jihadist commander heading to Aleppo province on orders from the organization’s chief.

A week earlier, American forces killed ISIS deputy leader Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli. Another recent killing was that of the group’s most notorious commanders, Omar al-Shishani, known as ISIS’s “defense minister”.

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