Iraq‘s counter-terrorism forces gained control over the southern part of the city of Fallujah on Sunday. The Islamic State (IS) assaulted the city two years ago, and since then, it has been one of the most important strongholds the organization has in the country.

The Fallujah operation has the ultimate goal of eradicating IS from Iraq. To do this, Iraq’s Special Forces has joined in arms with different factions that oppose the Islamic State and everything it represents. However, this long-lasting conflict is more complicated than it looks like, and civilians usually have the worst of it.

Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite fighters sit in military vehicles near Fallujah. Image courtesy of Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters/IBTimes

High-caliber guns and heavy vehicles tanks included are usually a common target.

Lt. Gen. Abdel Wahab Al-Saadi is the man in charge of the operation. The offensive was announced in May this year, and the campaign was officially launched in the last days of the same month. It started in Namiyah, a rural neighborhood south Fallujah, using one of the tactics favored by the North American army, counter-terrorism forces waited for a series of airstrikes to reduce the resistance.

The United States led the alliance air-raid, and it lasted for days. Its primary objective was to eliminate as many car bombs as possible since they are the most effective weapon the IS has used against Iraq’s special forces. An air raid is a group effort. From land, small forces scout the terrain looking for critical objectives, such as weapon facilities, fuel and ammunition storage and others. High-caliber guns and heavy vehicles tanks included are usually a common target.

The counter-terrorism forces joined the fray in the land after the defenses were weakened. Iraqi forces were accompanied of the militias, an “informal” faction of the conflict which opposes the IS. The “militias” are mostly formed by Shias, and together they bested the terrorist units. According to Al-Saadi, the coalition forces will enter the center of the central city. If that happens, the IS will lose tactical power.

The jihadist organization controls its supply chain from the town of Fallujah, and losing this position could mean a regional defeat, and it would not be a surprise. IS once controlled around 30% of Iraq’s territory, but it has lost almost half of its territory dominance. However, jihadists still have many strongholds around the country including Mosul, Its second largest city.

There are Christians and Sunnis, but most of them are Shias.

This recent success of the coalition group against the world caliphate is a direct consequence of established alliances, but the Middle East’s history is full of rivalries and feuds between neighbors, one example is the Shias and the Sunnis. Both of them are Islamic sects, but they differ on many aspects being the most important, who the worthy successor of Muhammad was.

This might seem unimportant, but the Islamic State took advantage of the hatred between these two tribes to rally thousands of people under its banner. The militia that helped the counter-terrorism forces to beat the terrorist in the Namiyah conflict is varied. They have many leaders and the men in their units have many religions.

Two years ago, Isis used the anger of the people against the Baghdad government which was mostly led by the Shias and gained control of the city. To avoid this, Iraq’s special forces, who are at the head of the war against IS in the country, ordered the militias not to enter the city.

Many speculate that the complaints from Sunni leaders influenced this decision. They didn’t take actions against any unit from the coalition, but they expressed their discomfort when militiamen entered the city, and they might have a point. Human rights groups have accused Shia militiamen of brutality against Sunnis suspected of collaborating with terrorists.

Shia militia leaders like Hadi al-Amiri did not like the order. The counter-terrorist forces beat IS in the central conflict, but the terrorists have slowed the process of the offensive using very sophisticated guerrilla tactics. Hadi al-Amiri does not like the delay; he wants to dispatch Iranian fighters who are members of his Badr organization to retake the city helpfully.

“No one can stop us from going there,” al-Amiri said in a political speech.

Even when citizens reach coalition forces, they have to convince them that they have no ties with the Islamic State.

The world does not end when 2 or more factions decide to go to war, and after the evacuations, there are at least 50,000 civilians, who play no active role in the conflict, trapped inside the city. Airstrikes are very effective at reducing the defensive power of location, but bombs do not have allies. Accordingly, most non-combatants escaped the city when the attacks began. Many of them have fled the city, but local sources report that IS forces are shooting at the people who tries to leave the place.

Nonetheless, the local military effort backed by U.S. forces has been very useful. The Fallujah operations coincide with two other campaigns in Syria.  The Islamic State is battling on four fronts as the Syrian forces reached the Raqqa province last week. This has put a lot of pressure on the organization that started killing dozens of its men. According to local sources, the terrorists think there are spies among their ranks, and they are trying to identify them.

Source: ABC News