Soldiers of the cannon private sector of Hashid Al Shabi pray in Fallujah, Iraq on May 28, 2016.

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A group of Iraqi militants rest for the night at a camp sight near Fallujah, Iraq on May 28, 2016.

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An Iraqi tank fires at a sniper-man who's been hiding in a house on the frontline in Fallujah, Iraq on June 14, 2016.

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Soldiers of the cannon private sector of Hashid Al Shabi pray in Fallujah, Iraq on May 28, 2016.

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HARVET FOR BULLETS

I saw no families when I entered the recently-liberated city of Fallujah. The only person I saw other than Iraqi army personnel and militiamen was an older woman, all on her own amidst the dust and rubble. After liberating Ramadi, the Iraqi military and Shiite militias directed much of their firepower toward Fallujah to push ISIS out of the city. Aid groups warned of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ because an estimated 50,000 people remained inside the city despite the fighting.

 

Three months after the siege of Fallujah, I spent more than 30 days covering the battle of Fallujah. After the announcement on May 23, the Iraqi Government launched Operation “Breaking Terrorism,” an effort by the Iraqi Army’s 1st Division and associated Shiite militia forces to take the city of Fallujah back from Islamic State forces. Its proximity to Baghdad makes Fallujah strategically important, no doubt one of the reasons why the ferocity and scale of the fighting were so intense. 

 

The city was considered an ISIS stronghold in Iraq until July 17, 2016, when the Government declared it liberated from the radical Islamist group. On Monday, May 23, after a three-month siege of Fallujah, the Iraqi Government launched Operation “Breaking Terrorism,” an effort by the Iraqi Army’s 1st Division and associated Shiite militia forces to take the city back from Islamic State forces. Its proximity to Baghdad makes Fallujah strategically important.