By Ahmed Ali and Iraq Team
Iraq’s Security Forces (ISF) have launched a major operation around the city of Fallujah in the western province of Anbar. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that a combination of ISF units including Ground Forces, Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, Iraqi Army Aviation (IAA), Ministry of Interior Forces, and tribal elements are participating in the effort. According to the MoD, the operation was launched from the Sichar area in the north, Mazraa in the east, and Naimiyah in the south. Naimiyah is close to the Fallujah Dam which has recently been closed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) causing flooding around Fallujah. An unnamed source within the Anbar Operations Command (AOC) confirmed the operation.
The MoD statement also added that the attack will include a push to retake the Tufaha Bridge, which is in east Fallujah. The CTS announced that the Tufaha Bridge was retaken and a source added that 11 members of ISIS were killed during that operation. Furthermore, the anti-government Tribal Military Council in Fallujah stated on its social media outlet that its members responded to the attack, inflicting losses against the security forces and launching a counter attack.
Also, an anonymous source from the Iraqi Police in Anbar stated that the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army (IA) requested from the directorates the suspension of internet and cell phone services in Ramadi and Fallujah until a further notice. This is intended to prevent the communication between armed groups as the operation gets underway.
An anonymous source from the AOC stated that the “remaining” of the civilian population started to depart the city through a “safe port” provided for them. Meanwhile, the commander of IA Aviation, General Hamid Atiya al-Maliki stated that the “final hour is close” citing the high moral of the soldiers adding that the result will be “splendid” for the people and describing the operation as the “final battle.” Another anonymous source from Fallujah General Hospital stated that the IA forces stationed around the city shelled various areas of Fallujah which resulted in the death of 13 individuals and injured 40 others.
ISW will continue to post updates as more information is available, both here and on our Twitter feed @TheStudyofWar
Ahmed Ali is a Senior Iraq Research Analyst and Iraq Team Lead at Institute for the Study of War