BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Fallujah, in the wake of warning residents to leave before the fighting started.
The US-led coalition that has bombed Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria for nearly two years was expected to provide air support.
“Zero hour for the liberation of Fallujah has arrived. The moment of great victory has drawn near and Daesh has no choice but to flee,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on his official Twitter feed, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.
He said the offensive would be conducted by the army, police, counterterrorism forces, local tribal fighters, and a coalition of mostly Shiite Muslim militias.
Fallujah, a longtime bastion of Sunni Muslim jihadists 50 kilometres west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall to the jihadists.
Islamic State took control of the city in January 2014, six months before the group declared a caliphate spanning large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi officials said Shiite militias, including ones backed by neighbouring Iran, may be restricted to operating outside the city proper, as they were largely in the battle for Ramadi, to avoid aggravating sectarian tensions with Sunni residents.
The Iraqi army, police and the militias, backed by coalition air strikes, have surrounded Fallujah since late last year, while the jihadists have been preventing residents from leaving for months.
Families who cannot flee should raise white flags to mark their location in the city, the military’s media unit said in a statement on state television, a tactic employed with some success in other recent offensives.
2 injured as bomb goes off at Ward Chair’s house
DAMAK — An unidentified group detonated a bomb at the house of Bhim Poudel, a Ward Chairperson of the Damak Municipality Ward Number 7, last night, injuring two people including a woman.
The injured were hit by shrapnel due to the explosion. The explosion has also caused minor damages to the house which is located some 500 metres to the east of the Area Police Office, Damak.
It was a powerful explosion and it is not known who carried it out, police said.
Those injured in the incident are Semu Rai and Tilochan Pokhrel who had come to visit their relatives at the house next to Poudel’s house.
Both them who have been wounded in the hands and legs are being treated at the Lifeline Hospital in Damak. Rai is a staff at the same hospital.
Police has started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the Nepal Communist Party led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) has today issued a press release saying those playing main role in evicting the landless squatters in the disputed market area in Damak. It had specifically named Wrad Chair Poudel and Mayor Romnath Oli.
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