Military offensive in iraq: army launches assault on is stronghold

Iraqi forces say they are advancing into the center of Fallujah. The Islamic State had captured the city more than two years ago.

Skirmishes with jihadists: an Iraqi army soldier near Fallujah on Sunday Photo: reuters

The Iraqi military has begun storming the IS stronghold of Fallujah, according to official figures. The army launched the corresponding operation on Monday, said an officer not far from the front line. According to its own information, it is already advancing toward the city center. Four key areas around the city have already been liberated from the rule of the Islamic State terrorist militia, a spokesman said. In addition, several villages around the city were captured on Monday, he added.

The Iraqi army launched the offensive to retake Fallujah a week ago. It is supported by Shiite militias. Fallujah is completely surrounded by the military. Shiite militia leader Hadi al-Amiri said Friday that it would only be "days, not weeks" before the final battle for Fallujah begins.

The extremist militia Islamic State (IS) had captured Fallujah in January 2014. According to the United Nations, it is preventing some 50,000 civilians from leaving the city. Those who nevertheless managed to flee reported that some people in Fallujah had already starved to death, according to the UN.

More than 20 dead in Baghdad

Meanwhile, more than 20 people were killed and about 50 others injured in a series of attacks in Baghdad on Monday. According to police and hospital sources, a total of three explosive devices detonated.

Twelve people were killed by a car bomb in the Shiite district of Shaab, according to the report. Seven others were also killed by an explosive device planted in a car in the Sunni suburb of Tarmiyah. In the Shiite district of Sadr City, two people died from a bomb strapped to a motorcycle.

It was initially unclear who was behind the acts. Most recently, IS had claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in and around the Iraqi capital that killed dozens of people.