Iraqi troops retake govt. compound in center of Fallujah

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Iraqi forces have retaken the main government compound in the center of Fallujah from Daesh militants, symbolizing government control of the city.

A military statement said the federal police raised the Iraqi flag above the municipal building on Friday and were continuing to pursue Takfiri militants, who continued to hold other areas.

The army’s advances in the city, an hour’s drive west of Baghdad, mark a significant step in the nearly four-week-old offensive to retake the Takfiri bastion. 

“The liberation of the government compound, which is the main landmark in the city, symbolizes the restoration of the state’s authority” in Fallujah, Iraq’s federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat told the AFP news agency.

The government lost control of Fallujah in 2014, months before Daesh took second city Mosul and swept across large parts of the country.

Daesh militants still control a significant portion of the city, where the conflict has forced the evacuation of most residents and many streets and houses remain mined with explosives.

Residents of the city center had been trapped in dire conditions for days and used as human shields by Daesh but recent advances have allowed large numbers to escape.

There were an estimated 50,000 people in the city when the operation was launched but it is unclear how many remain now.

Security officials said many Daesh members had managed to slip out of the city by blending in with fleeing civilians in recent days.

Those left behind to fight government advances are believed to be hiding in buildings.  

A military commander said Iraqi forces are now clearing roadside bombs near the government complex, which includes the municipality offices, the police station and other government buildings. 

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