A high-ranking Iraqi army commander says government forces, together with fighters from allied Popular Mobilization units, are poised to liberate Fallujah from Daesh within the next few days.
“The security forces are advancing towards central Fallujah from the southern side but doing so cautiously, to preserve civilian lives,” Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the commander of Fallujah Liberation Operations, said on Tuesday.
“In the coming days,” he said, “we will declare the liberation of Fallujah” which is located roughly 69 kilometers (43 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command announced in a statement that the astounding number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by Daesh militants has slowed the progress of army soldiers to push deep into Fallujah.
“There are tunnels and between 150 and 200 bombs are defused every 100 meters,” the statement read.
“Our information is that Daesh has prepared car bombs which they are hiding in homes, with the intention of attacking us when we enter,” it added.
Meanwhile, at least eight civilians have reportedly died after Daesh extremists forced them to give excessive blood for militants injured during clashes with Iraqi government forces in Fallujah.
An Iraqi medical source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Daesh terrorists have ordered Fallujah residents aged between 16 and 50 to give blood, threatening them with 60 lashes if they don’t.
The source said that a large number of Fallujah residents are ignoring the call to give blood following the death of the eight civilians.
Fallujah was overrun by Daesh in January 2014, and civilians have attempted to flee the city in the face of the terrorist group’s atrocities ever since.
More recently, however, people have been trying to flee en masse as an Iraqi security operation has been launched to liberate the city.
Military forces and volunteers from Popular Mobilization units have encircled Fallujah and have set up safe corridors for the civilians to get out before forces enter the city.
“We are now at the gates of Fallujah,” Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi military commander who heads the Popular Mobilization Committee, said on Sunday.
However, Daesh terrorists, who are using the civilians as human shields, have been preventing people from leaving Fallujah, sometimes even sniping at departing individuals.
Daesh launched a large-scale campaign of terror in the northern and western parts of Iraq in June 2014, and took control of more portions of Iraqi territory.