Iraqi government forces are keeping up the pressure on ISIL – beginning a major operation on Monday to storm the militant stronghold of Falluja, reports say.
According to a report by AFP quoting army commanders, Iraqi forces have entered the city, which was one of the first in Iraq to fall to the militant group in 2014.
Reuters quotes a military officer as saying the Iraqi army has begun an operation on Monday to storm Falluja, and that a military unit was trying to advance in the city, which lies some 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.
Explosions and gunfire could be heard in Falluja’s southern Naimiya district.
The Iraqi army, supported by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, began a major push to recapture Falluja on May 23.
Reports say ISIL has been preventing most people from leaving Falluja. Hundreds who have managed to escape have been receiving relief supplies from the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.
Meanwhile fighting has also been continuing around Mosul, which is also held by ISIL, as efforts go on to free the northern Iraqi city.
Broadcaster CNN Turk has said Turkey’s military killed at least 28 ISIL fighters in shelling north of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday, in retaliation for the latest attacks against a Turkish border town.
The attack hit 58 Islamic State targets with artillery and rocket launchers, CNN Turk said on Monday.