Sunday, June 05, 2016

Iraqi Forces Secure Southern Edge of ISIS-held Fallujah
June 05, 2016
Associated Press

CAMP TARIQ, Iraq –  Iraqi forces secured the southern edge of the Islamic State group stronghold of Fallujah on Sunday, two weeks after the launch of an operation to recapture the city, the Iraqi special forces commander overseeing the operation said.

Iraqi special forces, also known as its counterterrorism forces, have secured the largely agricultural southern neighborhood of Naymiyah under cover of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Lt. Gen. Abdel Wahab al-Saadi said. Special forces are now poised to enter the main city, al-Saadi said.

The Fallujah operation coincides with a twin offensive on IS-strongholds in neighboring Syria. Syrian Kurdish forces are advancing on Manbij, an IS-held city controlling the supply route between the Turkish border and the town of Raqqa, the militants' de facto capital. At the same time, Syrian government troops are advancing on Raqqa from the south.

The slow-moving Iraqi operation was announced in May. An array of troops including Iraqi military divisions, the federal police and the largely Shiite militia groups, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, had cleared IS from the majority of Fallujah's suburbs.

On Monday, Iraq's elite special forces began pushing into the city center, but they have faced stiff resistance as Fallujah has been under IS control for more than two years, and the militants have been able to erect complex defenses.

Tall dirt berms dot the dusty fields to the city's south. A single column of counterterrorism Humvees snaked up toward a row of low lying houses that mark the beginning of the main city.

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