Al-Anbar – Federal Police Captain, Lt. Gen. Raed Shaker Jawdat announced that the Iraqi forces had liberated the city of Fallujah from the control of ISIS. The Fallujah operation reached its ultimate goal this Sunday when the Iraqi troops decimated the terrorist resistance and entered the city.

According to Raed Jawdat, 90% of the city is now under the control of Iraq’s military, and the officers are already cleaning the city to make it sure for its habitants to return. The General Commander of the Armed Forces Haider al-Abadi made the victory official by raising the Iraqi flag near the Hospital of Fallujah in the center of the city.

Iraqi troops recover Fallujah
Iraqi forces have liberated the city of Fallujah after two and a half years of ISIL control. Credit:

“The ISIS fighters and those who supported them from their associates attempted to stop the march towards Fallujah and made false rumors. However, our armed forces managed to thwart them and achieve victory in the city,” said al-Abadi at a press conference. “Our heroic forces liberated Fallujah, and as we promised, we raised the Iraqi flag over it and so we will raise the Iraqi flag in Mosul.”

ISIS had controlled the city for two and a half years after the authorities could not handle a Sunni rebellion. Back in 2014, Sunni protesters set a camp in Ramadi, and when the Iraqi forces dismantled it, a lot of people got angry. In consequence, different extremists backed up the Sunni tribes in an offensive against the city of Fallujah.

The governmental forces tried to hold their ground, but rebel forces started to pop up in many different regions within the city. Eventually, all the officers had to withdraw. Then, Al-Qaeda and ISIL forces arrived at the city, and the various groups including the Sunni tribes pledged loyalty and became part of the collective known as the Islamic State. The capture of Fallujah, which was one of the first cities in the region to fall in ISIL hands, gave the organization impulse to launch a similar successful offensive in other cities such as Mosul.

The city needs a lot of work before the citizens can go back to their homes

Mission Fallujah has had massive success as a military operation, and ever since the Iraqi forces managed to break the lines assisted by North American airpower, the Islamic State has been systematically losing territory. However, they have managed to delay the government’s offensive buying themselves time to rig almost every vehicle and house they could with explosives. Consequently, the city is far from safe. The authorities are engaged in cleaning efforts after they were told that in their wake, terrorists had booby-trapped cars, houses, closets and more. Basically, there are bombs everywhere.

Also, the government of Anbar and the Fallujah Local Council reported that around 30% of the city was heavily damaged during the armed conflict. They have already designated different rescue and salvage teams, but it’s hard to tell when the civilians will be able to go back to their homes. The latter are suffering the worst part of the conflict, in fact, their lives have been a complete nightmare since ISIL forces took over the city.

 Around 60,000 people fled the city in only three days

When the operation led by the Iraqi Military, mission Fallujah, reached the outer skirts of the city,  a lot of inhabitants saw an opportunity to escape the then ISIL controlled fortress. It was everything but easy. There were several reports of snipers targeting fleeing civilians, and even if they escaped the shooters, they still had to deal with the Euphrates. Once they reached the Iraqi army, they had to proof they were not spies trying to escape disguised as refugees, so they had to endure long interrogations.

The world was not indifferent to the situation, and many humanitarian organizations, both local and international, set different camps to receive them. However, the conflict can make supplies difficult to reach making the living at the refugee camps very hard.

The situation got only worse in the last couple of months. As the military operation against ISIL further advanced, more and more people managed to escape the city. In fact, from June 15 to 18, around 60,000 people fled Fallujah, or so the reports from the Norwegian camp say. The amount of individuals arriving at the different camps further worsened the scarcity.

“The level of trauma that is coming from there is something we haven’t even started talking about. Right now, we’re just struggling to deal with the basic necessities – water, food, medicines, tents, mattresses. That’s the kind of place we’re in right now,” said Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council in an interview with the international press.

Even though the city has been reclaimed, Iraq’s leaders are worried about the damage to both the structure and population. They are already working on the cleaning and reconstruction process, but the authorities have expressed their concerns about what Fallujah’s inhabitants have had to go through.

It is no wonder, the terrorist organizations were masters and rulers for two and a half years, so the government fears indoctrination and trauma. In this regard, officials have asked for international support to help the civilians recover as much of the former life they had before the occupation.

Schembri said that they have not started to address the level of trauma that citizens of Fallujah sure have, and he is correct. It is from now on that the investigators will start reporting what was life like for these people under ISIL occupation for the last two and a half years.

Source: Fox News