Iraqi Army Starts Operation to Storm IS-Held Fallujah

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Falluja, Iraq, May 29, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
An Iraqi Shiite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State terrorists near Fallujah, Iraq, Sunday. (Reuters/Alaa Al-Marjani)

The Iraqi army began an operation on Monday to storm Fallujah, a stronghold of the Islamic State terror group near Baghdad, a military officer told a Reuters crew near the front line. A military unit is trying to advance in the city, he said as explosions and gunfire could be heard in Fallujah’s southern Naimiya district.

The Iraqi army, supported by Iranian-backed Shiite militia, began the operation to recapture Fallujah on May 23, first by tightening its siege around the city, 30 miles west of Baghdad, and has now begun a direct assault.

In January 2014, Fallujah became the first Iraqi city to fall under the control of the terrorists, six months before they declared a caliphate over territory seized in Iraq and Syria.