Iraqi security forces along with Hashid Shaabi fighters have retaken the key town of Garma from Islamic State (ISIL, IS, Daesh) on Thursday (May 26), the government’s first significant victory in its push to recapture Falluja.
Garma is about 16 kilometres (10 miles) northeast of Falluja. Iraqi forces launched a campaign on Monday (May 22) to reclaim Falluja, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Baghdad. It remains, along with Mosul, one of the last two Iraqi cities under the Sunni insurgent group’s control.
Iraqi forces and allied militiamen are tightening the noose around the ISIL stronghold of Falluja.
The battle began on Monday to retake the city, the first in Iraq to be seized by the extremists in January 2014.
Boosted by the recapture of parts of nearby Karma (Garma), a key supply line for ISIL, government troops say they are now poised to finish the job.
““There were concrete walls built by the extremists. We broke them down and drove the enemy out. They are now using rocket shells and snipers to resist our advance but we believe we will soon recapture Falluja.”“
“We retook this area two days ago, then we pushed ahead and arrived in Karma,” said Samir Mohammed, a commander with the Iraqi rapid reaction forces, part of the Iraqi army.
The final push however is perilous. Roadside bombs and booby traps laid by ISIL have already had to be cleared. Many more are expected.
And some 50,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in Falluja and terrorists will use them as human shields, amid reports of a budding humanitarian crisis in the city.
Iraqi forces retook Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital near Falluja, in December.