Iraqi troops launch operation to retake ISIS stronghold

Iraqi forces have started an operation to retake the ISIS stronghold of Falluja with the help of Iraqi and coalition air support, Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasoul said on Iraqi state TV. “With God’s blessing we have launched the third phase of the operation to storm the center of Falluja city — by our heroes in the counterterrorism forces, units of the Iraqi army and Anbar police,” Rasoul said.

“There is heavy air cover for this operation from our heroes in the Iraqi air force and the coalition.” Iraqi forces retook the village of Nuaimiya, just south of Falluja, closing in on the city itself, al-Iraqi TV reported.

Earlier Monday, Iraqi military units and supporting militia captured a handful of settlements from ISIS near Falluja, including the town of Saqlawiya, about 10 kilometers (6.5 miles) northwest of the city, and the villages of al-Buaziz, al-Bu Efan and al-Shiha, north and west of Falluja, state-run TV reported.

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