On June 26th, commanders of Iraq’s Security Forces announced they had completely re-taken the city of Fallujah from ISIL, also known as Da’esh.
This is a significant blow to the extremist group, which has already lost nearly 50 percent of the populated territory it had once controlled in Iraq. Fallujah was the first major city ISIL had managed to capture some two and a half years ago. Retaking the city, which once boasted around 300,000 inhabitants, required a month-long offensive by Iraq’s military forces, as well as robust support from the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
“The operation in Fallujah has been a significant challenge for the ISF and for the coalition. It will not be the last. Hard fighting remains ahead, as does the vital task of caring for the residents of Fallujah displaced by ISIL’s violence and beginning to rebuild the city so that its people may safely return,” said Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in a written statement.
The Iraqi army’s work is far from finished in Fallujah. While initial reports are that the city was saved of the extensive damage seen in Ramadi and other places, it is yet to be made safe. When ISIL militants flee territories they once controlled, they litter the area with deadly, explosive booby traps. Until these explosives are safely removed, reconstruction cannot commence and the citizens of formerly-occupied towns and villages cannot begin to return to normal life.
“Despite the hard work still to do, the clearing of Fallujah will make the people of Iraq safer and bring us all one step closer to dealing ISIL a lasting defeat,” said Secretary of Defense Carter.
“[The United States] congratulates Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and the Iraqi people for their progress in freeing the city of Fallujah from the grip of ISIL.The United States military and our coalition partners are proud to have supported the Iraqi Security Forces under the prime minister’s command in this important operation, which is another milestone in our joint efforts to accelerate ISIL's defeat, and to continue supporting our Iraqi partners moving forward.”