Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Sunday that the military has begun an assault on the Islamic State terrorist group to retake the city of Falluja.
"Today, we will tear down the black flags of these despicable strangers who abducted this dear city," al-Abadi said during a televised address, according to Al Jazeera. "The time has come to liberate Fallujah and the victory will be ours. ISIL has nowhere to go but to flee the city."
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The BBC, citing Iraqi media, reported that ISIS’ proxy governor in Falluja has been killed since the offensive began while the militants have claimed government casualties.
The government advised the 60,000 to 90,000 civilians who live in the city to flee or hang white flags outside of their homes as the assault began.
ISIS jihadists have maintained control of Falluja for more than two years—longer than any other city held in Iraq or Syria.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The operation follows months of planning and preparation in coordination with a U.S.-led military coalition that is backing Iraqi forces with airstrikes. Iraqi forces have long had the city surrounded, but a major buildup of forces became evident in recent days as Shiite militias working alongside the Iraqi army moved military equipment to the area and officials suggested an operation was imminent.
The Iraqi military is teaming up with counterterrorism forces, local fighters, and Shiite militias to carry out the operation.
Fallujah is located roughly 40 miles west of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.