Iraqi troops launch attack to retake Fallujah

Iraqi troops launch attack to retake Fallujah

Fri May 9, 2014 10:12PM GMT

Iraqi army and tribal fighters have launched an operation to retake militant-held areas in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province.

The attack, which is described by Iraqi officials as the preparation for an eventual assault, started on Friday and lasted for a few hours.

“A military operation was launched… to eliminate the ISIL (the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) organization and liberate Fallujah,” a senior army officer said.

“The operation will continue until an assault on Fallujah,” the unnamed officer added.

The ISIL militants are notorious for their atrocities in neighboring Syria.

Medical sources said eight people were killed and nine others injured in the bombardment and subsequent clashes.

Anbar plunged into violence in December 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in the provincial capital of Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as “headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda.” The bloodshed later spread to the nearby city of Fallujah.

Iraqi troops, backed by local tribesmen, have since been fighting al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in the region.

They, however, have so far been cautious in their campaign to avoid civilian casualties.

The violence has inflicted severe damage on infrastructure, and forced nearly 400,000 people to flee their homes.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.

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