Iraqi security troops, Shia militias, and other forces have nearly surrounded Fallujah one week after they began a military offensive to recapture the city from Islamic State militants.
The forces were stationed outside Fallujah Sunday, and will eventually advance on the city, Reuters reported, citing state media.
Government forces and militias began their approach in the hours between May 22 and May 23, and are backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes. They have seized some villages and other rural areas this week in their march toward Fallujah. The city, located east of Baghdad, was the first of several to fall to ISIS in January 2014, six months before the militant group declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria and Western nations began considering air strikes. The city’s 50,000 residents have remained trapped since. At least 3,000 people have fled Fallujah to safety in the last few days, and some have been killed trying to escape, according to humanitarian agencies. The coming onslaught is expected to further endanger the remaining residents.
Iraqi forces on Sunday launched other offensives against ISIS elsewhere in Iraq. Government troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters attacked ISIS militants in village east of the city of Mosul, which has been under ISIS control since June 2014. U.S. and Iraq officials hope to attempt to recapture Mosul if the offensive in Fallujah succeeds.