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International Coalition Halts Advance of PMF towards Fallujah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi pro-government fighters hold position in Shahabi village, east of Fallujah, on May 24 as part of a major assault to retake the city from ISIS. Ahmad Al-Rubaye, AFP, Getty Images

Fallujah, Washington-In an attempt to halt any advance for the Popular Mobilization Forces militias towards Fallujah city in Iraq, Spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS Steve Warren said on Thursday that the Iraqi government forces and the Sunni fighters will liberate the city from the terrorist organization.

Warren stressed that militias will not play any fighting role in the operations as they will stay on the city’s borders.

He told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that “the security forces moved toward Fallujah and will enter it soon,” indicating “4,000 Sunni tribal fighters will participate in the liberation battles of the city.”

“There are nearly 50,000 civilians in the city of Fallujah,” he said, pointing out that “ISIS fighters, who were in the city of Ramadi, fought fiercely, while the members in al-Rutba area were cowards and left their weapons.”

Col. Warren denied cooperating with PMF militias and confirmed that the coalition’s warplanes do not provide any air support for them.

He declined to predict when the city would be liberated but said he is confident that ISIS will be ousted in the operation.

“Fallujah is an important city, and we look forward to its liberation,” he said, adding that Fallujah remains, along with Mosul, one of the last two Iraqi cities under the insurgent group’s control.

While the U.S. military is providing air support for Iraqi government troops advancing on Fallujah, medical sources confirmed that the city’s hospital was shelled, causing the death of scores of civilians.

On the other hand, member of the security committee of al-Anbar Province Rajeh Barakat told Asharq Al-Awsat that 30 families were able to escape the city and arrived to the places allocated for them in Amiryiat Fallujah.

Barakat added that since the operation of liberating Fallujah has been launched, around 700 people, including 400 babies, were able to flee the city.

Local sources reported that ISIS militants are living a state of panic after the security forces were able to reach Fallujah’s outskirts.

The sources added that the extremist organization warned the citizens from escaping or raising white flags on their rooftops to be used as human shields; however, some ISIS militants tried to swap some families by allowing them to escape in exchange for 5,000 dollars for each family.