BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces’ ability to deal a swift blow to the Islamic State in the city of Fallujah could be slowed by local support for militants, the U.S. commander in Iraq said, suggesting a key battle may be a longer, tougher fight than Iraqi leaders are predicting.
Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who commands U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, said it was too soon to know how the battle within Fallujah would unfold. But he struck a more cautious note than Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other senior officials have in rallying Iraqis around what they say will be a rapid, decisive campaign in the besieged city.
“We really haven’t fought a battle like this,” MacFarland said in an interview this past week. The general said that the western city is home to some of Iraq’s “early adopters” of the Islamic State’s radical cause and that others have been indoctrinated. “You could have a fairly large percentage of a fairly large city that’s hostile to us,” he said.
While Iraqi police and army forces, fighting alongside Shiite militias and Sunni tribesmen, have secured areas surrounding Fallujah since the operation was launched nearly a week ago, Abadi has not yet given the order to storm the city. But Iraqi officials are already setting the operation apart from the recent battle for nearby Ramadi, which took weeks to complete and left much of the city in ruins.
This past week, Abadi said the campaign, in its early days, was going better than expected. “Soon we will liberate the people of Fallujah,” he said.
WASH POST---ISIS fighters seem to be trying to sell sex slaves online
The caption mentions a single biographical fact: She is for sale.
“To all the bros thinking about buying a slave, this one is $8,000,” begins the May 20 Facebook posting, which was attributed to an Islamic State fighter who calls himself Abu Assad Almani. The same man posted a second image a few hours later, this one a pale young face with weepy red eyes.
“Another sabiyah [slave], also about $8,000,” the posting reads. “Yay, or nay?”
The photos were taken down within hours by Facebook, and it is unclear whether the account’s owner was doing the selling himself or commenting about women being sold by other fighters. But the unusual posting underscores what experts say is an increasingly perilous existence for the hundreds of women who are thought to be held as sex slaves by the Islamic State.
ISIS use 50,000 civilians as 'human shields' as Iraqi forces blitz Fallujah
The Iraq defence ministry claims to have isolated the city but the jihadis are holding the people hostage so they can hide behind them
The extensive network was unveiled after the jihadis fled the outskirts of Fallujah. The militants use them to reach the front line to fight and then slink away to safety
A warren of terror tunnels excavated by ISIS terror thugs has been discovered by Iraqi forces.
The extensive network was unveiled after the jihadis fled the outskirts of Fallujah.
One of the longest tunnels surrounded a brick factory, Hashid Shaabi fighters said.
Islamic State used the tunnels to approach, appear and escape from the front-line to reduce their casualties.
The tunnels run under streets and between houses, where the terror thugs take cover to fight their advancing enemy.