Iraqi forces ‘retake Fallujah city hall’ from IS

By Agencies

Iraqi forces have retaken the main government compound in the centre of Fallujah from the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, top commanders say.

The government lost control of Fallujah in 2014, months before IS took Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and swept across large parts of the country.

“The counterterrorism service and the rapid response forces have retaken the government compound in the centre of Fallujah,” the operation’s overall commander, Lieutenant-General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, told AFP on Friday.

The Iraqi flag is now raised on top of the building, symbolising government control.

Fallujah, only 50km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, has been held by IS for longer than any other city in Iraq or Syria.

A significant part of the city still remains under IS control.

Fallujah’s capture would represent a significant blow to IS morale, recruitment and funding. Being a mere 50km west of Baghdad, it might also relieve some pressure on the Iraqi capital as well.

There were an estimated 50,000 people in the city when the operation was launched but it is unclear how many remain now.

Civilians have been used as human shields by IS and those who managed to flee face the risk of sectarian–motivated abuse by elements of the pro–government forces.

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