Iraqi forces retake city centre from Islamic State after four weeks of fighting

Iraqi special forces entered the center of Fallujah on Friday, taking over a government complex and a neighborhood that served as a base for Islamic State. They also laid siege to the nearby central hospital, clashing with IS snipers in nearby buildings. It is a significant breakthrough following four weeks of intense fighting but the militant group still controls swathes of the city, which it first captured two years ago. Aid groups also estimate that up to 50,000 civilians remain trapped within the city although IS has allowed them to leave in the past few days, swamping the refugee camps to which they fled.

The liberation of the government compound, which is the main landmark in the city, symbolises the restoration of the state’s authority in Fallujah

Iraq’s federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat

According to Iraqi commanders, the IS resistance has collapsed suggesting that most of its fighters fled after the Iraqi forces moved in on al-Nazzal district. The neighborhood, near the government complex, served as a base for the militants, and had weapons warehouses and command centers. When it fell, the troops were able to move in to the city center and the government complex. Witnesses said clashes involving aerial bombardment, artillery and machine gun fire were continuing in the south of the city. Clouds of smoke could also be seen rising up from some areas closer to the city centre.

There is a mass flight of Daesh [IS] to the west that explains this lack of resistance. There are only pockets of them left, and we are hunting them down

Iraqi commander Lt Gen Abdulwahab al Saadi