Intense fighting is ongoing on the outskirts of Fallujah
FALLUJAH OUTSKIRTS, Iraq - Iraqi security forces and allied militias fighting to liberate Fallujah from the Islamic State reported substantial advances on Wednesday, saying they had cleared ISIS from more than a dozen areas, in operations in which 163 militants were killed.
Shakir Jawdat, an Iraqi Federal Police commander, said that 168 explosives and 22 car bombs planted by the militants to slow down the advance had been safely detonated before they could cause casualties.
The Iraqi Army, together with the Shiite Hashdi al-Shaabi militia and Sunni tribesmen launched an offensive on Fallujah Sunday, backed by US-led coalition forces.
The joint forces pushing toward Fallujah said they were making good progress in the offensive, but reports said at least 15 civilians and 35 Iraqi forces and militiamen were killed so far.
Sixteen areas on the outskirts of Fallujah were cleared of the militants and advancing forces were nearing Fallujah’s eastern gate, Qasm Araji, a member of the Iraqi Parliament's security and defense committee, told Rudaw late Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, a large police force from Anbar that was trained by the international coalition was deployed in western Fallujah, squeezing the militants from at least two fronts.
"Following fierce confrontations with the militants in nearby areas around Fallujah, the joint Iraqi forces successfully took control of many districts,” Araji confirmed.
“The Iraqi forces used a new military tactic for the first time, flooding the southern parts of Fallujah with water in order to clear them of landmines and bombs planted by ISIS," Araji said. "This tactic helped open a large corridor for our forces and defeated ISIS’ frontline positions.”
Araji said that the Iraqi Army’s elite Golden Division had been air dropped by helicopter on the old Fallujah bridge, cutting off the city’s two Saqlawa and Andalus neighborhoods and taking control of ISIS arms depots there.