Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, made the announcement early Monday after which visited the battle’s operations room.
“We’re starting the operation to liberate Fallujah,” he mentioned in an announcement. “The Iraqi flag might be raised excessive over the land of Fallujah.”
Abadi mentioned that particular forces, troopers, police, militia forces and pro-government tribesmen have been collaborating within the offensive to retake the town, situated in Anbar province simply 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
Iraqi forces had not but entered the town, however an AFP photographer close to Fallujah mentioned they have been advancing whereas plane carried out strikes on targets inside the town.
Abadi’s announcement settled the difficulty of which Daesh held metropolis Iraq ought to search to retake subsequent — a topic of debate amongst Iraqi officers and worldwide forces serving to the nation struggle the militants.
Iraq’s second metropolis Mosul was the US navy’s advisable goal, however highly effective Iraqi militias could have helped pressure the difficulty by deploying reinforcements to the Fallujah space in preparation for an assault.
Iraqi forces have begun laying the groundwork for the recapture of Mosul, however progress has been sluggish and an assault to retake the town stays far off.
1000’s of civilians
The US-led anti-Daesh coalition carried out seven strikes within the Fallujah space final week, and Iraq mentioned it additionally bombed the town with US-supplied F-16 warplanes.
On Sunday, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command warned civilians nonetheless in Fallujah — estimated to quantity within the tens of 1000’s — to depart the town.
It mentioned that households who can’t depart ought to elevate a white flag over their location and steer clear of Daesh headquarters and gatherings.
Officers mentioned a number of dozen households had fled the town, however Daesh has sought to forestall civilians from leaving, and forces surrounding Fallujah have additionally been accused of stopping foodstuffs from getting into.
Iraqi forces have in latest days been massing across the metropolis, which has been out of presidency management since January 2014.
Anti-government fighters seized it after the military was withdrawn, and Fallujah later grew to become one among Daesh’s foremost strongholds.
Fallujah and Mosul, the capital of the northern province of Nineveh, are the final two main cities Daesh holds in Iraq.
Fallujah is nearly fully surrounded by Iraqi forces, which have regained vital floor in Anbar province in latest months, together with its capital Ramadi additional up the Euphrates River valley.
American forces launched two main assaults on Fallujah in 2004 wherein they noticed a few of their heaviest combating for the reason that Vietnam Battle.
Iraqi forces would have the benefit of better information of the realm, particularly in the event that they make use of pro-government Anbar tribal fighters within the battle.
However they lack the coaching and massive firepower that American forces delivered to the Fallujah battles.
IS overran giant areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, and Iraqi forces carried out dismally through the preliminary offensive regardless of considerably outnumbering the militants.
However the “caliphate” the militant group subsequently proclaimed has been shrinking these days, with anti-Daesh forces scoring main victories in each Iraq and Syria, the place the group has additionally seized vital territory.
A number of of its key leaders, together with the group’s quantity two, have been killed in air strikes by the US-led coalition.
The coalition earlier this month introduced it had killed an Daesh fighter described because the group’s prime navy chief in Anbar.
In an audio message launched on Saturday, Daesh spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani appeared to acknowledge that the group was more likely to lose extra floor.
However the battle for Fallujah — a metropolis that has lengthy been a Sunni rebel stronghold and which Daesh has had some two years to bolster — might be one of many hardest challenges they’ve but confronted.