Iraqi forces break through into IS stronghold of Fallujahtext_fields
Baghdad: Iraqi forces on Saturday pushed into the city of Fallujah and seized part of a district after fierce clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants, a security source said.
The troops have made a significant breakthrough when they pushed into the al-Nuaimia district after defeating the IS defensive line in southern Fallujah, around 50 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Xinhua quoted the source as saying.
The latest advance put the troops in new positions on the edges of the adjacent districts of Shuhadaa and Jubail in southern Fallujah, the source said.
"The troops still have more than three km of urban areas to reach the government compound," the source said.
Meanwhile, the source said US-led coalition aircraft bombarded IS positions in Shuhadaa district and killed at least nine IS militants.
The alliance's warplanes also bombarded IS militants in Azragiyah area, leaving 16 IS militants dead and four of their vehicles destroyed, the source said.
In addition, the security forces repelled an attack by dozens of IS militants in Albu Hawa area of the city, on the western bank of the Euphrates river, killing around 24 IS militants, the source said without giving further details about casualties among the security forces.
Earlier in the day, the security forces and allied paramilitary Shia and Sunni units, known as Hashd Shaabi, entered Saqlawiyah around noon and recaptured the central part of the town, a security source said.
The troops, backed by US-led coalition aircraft, took control of the government building and raised the Iraqi flag, while continuing to drive out IS fighters from the southern part of the town, the source said.
The advance in Saqlawiyah came after several days of clashes with the militants.
The troops' advance into Fallujah was slowed down during the past few days by heavy resistance from militants inside the city, in addition to hundreds of hidden bombs believed to be planted by the terrorists.
Earlier, Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul, spokesman for the Joint Military Command, said about 400 to 600 militants are present in Fallujah, many of them foreigners.
He said about 50,000 to 70,000 civilians are expected to remain in Fallujah.
On Wednesday, the UN children's fund warned that at least 20,000 Iraqi children remain trapped inside the city.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on May 23 the launch of a major offensive to claim Fallujah and surrounding towns and areas.