Siege of Fallujah (2016)
The Siege of Fallujah (2016) was an offensive that the Iraqi government launched against ISIL in Al-Karmah and in the city of Fallujah, with the aim of enforcing a siege of Fallujah. During the operation, local Sunni residents revolted against ISIL for a period of 3 days, in February 2016. On 22 May, after completing preparations around the city, the Iraqi Army and supporting Shi'ite militias launched the Third Battle of Fallujah.
On 4 January 2014, ISIL, then known as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, captured the city of Fallujah, after Iraqi government forces withdrew from the city, following a 5-day battle. This victory allowed ISIL to capture its first city on Iraqi soil, and it also allowed them to establish a stronghold only 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
From April to May 2015, the Iraqi Army launched an offensive in and around the town of Al-Karmah. During the offensive, the Iraqi Army made some limited gains in the Al-Karmah, by capturing some territory in the town and building a base for a future assault to fully recapture both Fallujah and Al-Karmah.
In mid-May 2015, ISIL captured Ramadi, after a large series of suicide attacks during a sandstorm prompted Iraqi forces to abandon the city to ISIL. Two months later, the Iraqi Security Forces recovered from their loss in the Anbar's provincial capital, and on 13 July 2015, launched an offensive to recapture the Anbar Province. During the offensive, ISIL suffered a major blow, after they lost Ramadi to Iraqi government forces in February 2016.
On 1 February, the Iraqi Army launched an offensive on the Khalidiya Island area, which is the region located between the villages Albu Nasir and Albu Shajal, situated between Ramadi and Fallujah. On the same day, the Iraqi Army managed to capture the villages of Albu Shalib and Albu Shajal, to the northwest of Fallujah.
On 2 February, the Iraqi Army fully severed the last supply lines between the Khalidiya Island region and the city of Fallujah, completely besieging the city. This led to concerns that an estimated 30,000–60,000 civilians trapped in Fallujah would starve, due to the lack of airdropped supplies into the city. On 10 February, it was reported that the Iraqi Army had fully recaptured the Khalidiya District, including the Khalidiya Island area.
Fallujah revolt and Al-Karmah offensive
On 18 February, a large number of local Sunni tribesmen revolted against ISIL, after ISIL beat a woman, among other restrictive practices enforces by ISIL's Al-Hisbah secret police, amid an ongoing siege. ISIL was reported to have withdrawn into Fallujah city, after local Sunnis burned the Al-Hisbah headquarters and clashes spread. On 20 February, the clashes began to die down as ISIL began carrying out mass arrests, and it was reported that there were still some Sunni fighters who were pinned down in parts of Fallujah, who would likely be massacred if the Iraqi Government or the US-led Coalition did not intervene. On 21 February, the Iraqi Army began shelling ISIL positions on the outskirts of Fallujah, in support of the Sunni tribal fighters. Late on 21 February, ISIL crushed the revolt, and detained 180 men. However, on the same day, the Iraqi Army deployed reinforcements to Fallujah, in preparation to storm the city.
On 23 February, the Iraqi Army fully recaptured the town of Al-Karmah, after they destroyed ISIL's last stronghold in the town.
Tightening the siege
On 25 February, the Iraqi Governor of Anbar stated that the battle for Fallujah would begin soon, and that it would be much shorter than the battle for Ramadi. On the same day, the Iraqi Army tightened their siege on Fallujah, pushing into the outskirts of Fallujah, and securing all of the bridges leading into the city. On the same day, the Iraqi Army cleared the Albu Daeig district in southern Fallujah, killing 19 ISIL militants. It was also reported that ISIL was using food as a weapon in Fallujah, denying food supplies to the people it suspected of having links to the rebel tribesmen or being non-ISIL sympathizers.
On 27 February, the Iraqi Government reported that 600 ISIL fighters had managed to flee Fallujah to nearby areas, and to the city of Mosul. After the defections, local sources estimated that there were only 400 ISIL militants remaining in Fallujah city. On 28 February, the Shi'ite militia forces repelled an ISIL attack on Al-Karmah, which was described as one of the largest attacks on the town. Later on the same day, Iraqi government forces repelled a massive ISIL suicide attack in Abu Ghraib and western Baghdad, which was the largest attack carried out by the group in the area in nearly 2 years. The assault left 48 ISIL militants and 23 Iraqi soldiers dead.
On 4 April, Iraqi Security Forces killed 150 ISIL fighters near Fallujah. Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that U.S. forces in Iraq couldn't confirm of the number of extremist fighters killed, but some 100 militants were killed on the same day by airstrikes conducted by the U.S.-led Coalition, which could have been part of the tally.
On 6 April, eight Iraqi soldiers were killed in an attack launched by ISIL on a military barracks in al-Ma'amel village, east of Fallujah. On 9 April, ten civilians were killed and 25 others were injured after airstrikes and artillery shelling by the Iraqi Army targeted the al-Fallujah market and Nezal district in the downtown area of the city. On 10 April, six ISIL militants were killed by the Iraqi army's artillery shelling in the area of Falahat, west of the city.
On 21 April, the US-led Coalition conducted an airstrike on an ISIL gathering in the Ahsi area near Amiriyah Fallujah, killing the top ISIL commander in southern Fallujah, along with six of his assistants. On 26 April, warplanes bombarded a number of areas in al-Resala, central Fallujah, resulting in the death of eight civilians, including three children, and wounding 13 others. On 27 April, six ISIL militants were killed and five others were wounded, when the Iraqi Army pounded ISIL positions in the city with artillery. On 28 April, Coalition aircraft conducted three airstrikes on ISIL headquarters in the al-Rofah area, north of al-Karma District, killing 15 ISIL terrorists, including three leaders, named Khattab al-Halabusi, Aush al-Shami, and Mosadaq Abdel Galil. Meanwhile, an ISIL vehicle carrying machine guns was also destroyed.
On 30 April, unidentified fighters attacked a gathering of ISIL militants near the Alwa area in the al-Joulan neighborhood, in central Fallujah killing seven ISIL militants. On 2 May, security forces carried out a large-scale military operation targeting ISIL gatherings in the al-Falahat area, killing 15 ISIL members and injuring ten others, as well as bombing a laboratory for manufacturing booby-trapped vehicles.
On 3 May, the Iraqi Army and allied militia forces launched an offensive in the southern Fallujah area, capturing the areas between Amiriyah and Fallujah city. By the next day, Iraqi Government forces had come within 3 kilometers of Fallujah's southern entrance, capturing 4 villages, killing 100 ISIL militants, and destroying 10 ISIL tunnels. On 5 May, Anbar Operations Commander Major General Ismail Mahlawi told Anadolu Agency that the Iraqi army had captured five areas of the city.
On the morning of 5 May, violent clashes broke out between two factions belonging to ISIS in Nazzal neighborhood in central Fallujah, after the theft of 700 million dinars that were deposited with one of ISIS leaders called Jabbar Auf, resulting in the killing of ten ISIS members and injuring eight others.
On 7 May, security forces conducted operations that targeted the headquarters and gatherings of ISIS in the areas of al-Hur and Zebin al-Hanshl in the vicinity of Amiriyah Fallujah, resulting in the death of 25 ISIS elements.
On 8 May, Coalition warplanes carried out an airstrike on ISIL positions in south of Fallujah, killing 14 ISIL militants. Warplanes also destroyed three car bombs and killed their suicide bombers as they were trying to attack the Iraqi Security Forces in the same area near Fallujah.
On 9 May, Iraqi Air Force bombarded two ISIL buildings, two caches of weapons, and 60 rocket launchers in the area of Albu Shehab and Amiriyah Fallujah. Earlier on same the day, 20 ISIL militants were killed during an aerial bombardment in south of Fallujah. From 4–9 May, 140 ISIL militants were killed in clashes in the western and southern suburbs of Fallujah.
On 11 May, eight ISIL militants were killed and two more were wounded, as Coalition airplanes conducted two airstrikes against a booby-trapped ISIL vehicle near the Fallahat and Halabisah villages.
On 14 May, ISIL forces claimed to have killed 100+ Iraqi forces in a large suicide attack at the residential compound in Amiriyah Fallujah. Another report put the death toll at 70 soldiers and one policeman.
Aftermath – Late May offensive
On 22 May, after a prolonged siege, the Iraqi army announced that it was building up its forces around Fallujah, in preparation for a large-scale assault on the city that would soon be initiated. According to Iraqi military leaders, these plans are in place to build on the momentum from a recent victory against ISIL in the town of Rutbah, they are also in place to degrade ISIL's ability to conduct suicide bombings in Baghdad; the recent attacks that killed 200 civilians are widely believed to have come out of Fallujah. The army sent messages to besieged residents to "be prepared to leave Fallujah through secured routes that will be announced later." According to UNHCR, 80 families have managed to escape before 24 May, however, the danger is made clear through civilian contacts who said that ISIL death squads "will kill anybody in Fallujah who leaves their house or waves a white flag."
The Popular Mobilization Forces declared on 23 May that they had captured al-Karmah, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) northeast of Falluja, which brings most of the territory east of Falluja under government control. They also announced the liberation of al-Harariyat, al-Shahabi and al-Dwaya and the killing of 40 ISIL militants during the military operation. Iraqi government announced that pro-government fighters had captured the villages of Luhaib and Albu Khanfar on 24 May.
On 25 May, 16 towns and districts on the eastern outskirts of Fallujah were cleared by Iraqi security forces. Included in this were the gains from a column in the North-East, which liberated the town of Sejar days after the capture of Karma. These clashes resulted in the death of 40 ISIL militants. An additional 123 ISIL militants, 15 civilians and 35 Iraqi forces and militiamen were killed in clashes which gained the Iraqi army control over the remaining districts in the South-East, allowing them to create a corridor that cut the ISIL-controlled-zone in two. According to Qasm Araji, a member of the defense committee, the advancing forces are continuously gaining ground and "nearing Fallujah's Eastern gate."
Starvation and negotiations
As the siege tightened, tens of thousands of Iraqis, trapped in Fallujah, were left without regular access to food and medicine, as shortages intensified in recent weeks. As the Iraqi Army tightened its grip on the city, local reports indicated that ISIL grew bloodier and more desperate. Some residents reported that they had no fuel to heat themselves during the cold winter. Still, some supplies were available in some stores, but only for ISIL fighters or sympathizers, according to local reports. Iraqi officials said that negotiations led by the International Red Cross have been going on in an attempt to get ISIL to allow some aid teams to enter into the city and provide basic assistance. However, these negotiations have not been successful yet. Hekmat Sulaiman, the spokesperson for Anbar's Governor, said that the Iraqi Army had tried to deliver food to the civilians, but that ISIL had blocked the efforts. A senior federal security official confirmed the negotiations, but declined to specify whether the talks were happening with ISIL leaders inside the city, or elsewhere. In the same day, ISIL pushed in the city center, after the Iraqi forces begin to advance towards the Hit surrounding areas.
Executions and abductions
On 30 March, a commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization units, Colonel Mahmoud Mardi Jumaili said ISIL killed 35 people in the central district Fallujah on Wednesday after accusing them of attempting to escape from the city.
On 4 April, ISIL burned 15 civilians to death for trying to escape Fallujah.
On 14 April, a security source said ISIL militants began a massive offensive in the al-Halabese and al-Bualawan areas of Western Fallujah, abducting at least 100 Iraqi civilians. ISIL elements took the abducted civilians to the organization's prisons in the city.
ISIL death squads were roaming the streets, saying they will kill anybody in Fallujah who leaves their house or waves a white flag.
- Al-Hawl offensive
- Battle of Baiji (2014–15)
- Battle of Baiji (October–December 2014)
- December 2014 Sinjar offensive
- Derna Campaign (2014–15)
- Fall of Hīt (2014)
- Fall of Mosul
- First Battle of Tikrit
- List of wars and battles involving ISIL
- Military intervention against ISIL
- Mosul offensive (2015)
- November 2015 Sinjar offensive
- Second Battle of Tikrit (March–April 2015)
- Siege of Amirli
- Siege of Kobanî
- Sinjar massacre
- Tishrin Dam offensive
- Al-Shaddadi offensive (2016)
- Hīt offensive (2016)
- Mosul offensive (2016)
- Ar-Rutbah offensive (2016)
- "Roadside bombs slow Iraqi forces' advance on Ramadi". Al Jazeera. 24 December 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (2 February 2016). "Security forces cut off ISIS supply routes between Fallujah and Khalediya Island". Iraqi News. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Thousands face starvation in Iraq's Fallujah as siege tightens". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (23 February 2016). "9 ISIS suicide bombers killed while trying to attack security forces in Karma". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "حاج قاسم سلیمانی در اتاق عملیات فلوجه :: تحولات جهان اسلام".
- Caleb Weiss (23 May 2016). "Iranian Qods Force leader reportedly in Fallujah". The Long War Journal.
- Tomson, Chris (23 May 2016). "Iraqi Army deploys prominent Iranian General to defeat ISIS at Fallujah".
- "IS Governor of Anbar killed in Airstrike". Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Iraqi Army kill ISIS military commander in Daeig area south of Fallujah". 28 February 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Senior ISIL Commander Killed in Anbar Province". 23 April 2016.
- Harris, Shane; Youssef, Nancy A. (18 May 2016). "This City Could Be the Next Big Battle of the ISIS War". The Daily Beast.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (12 April 2016). "More than 4000 fighters to join cleansing battles in Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- US-led coalition says only 1/3 of Fallujah cleared of IS, The Washington Post, 21 June 2016
- Tamer El-Ghobashy (21 February 2016). "Islamic State Reasserts Control Over Fallujah". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Iraqi forces tighten siege on IS stronghold Fallujah". Xinhua. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- "Over 100 ISIS jihadis killed as Iraqi forces advance near Fallujah". ARA News. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- Coalition warplanes kill 8 “terrorists” in aerial bombing west of Fallujah, Iraqinews.com
- Mamoun, Abdelhak (9 May 2016). "Anbar Deputy Governor: 140 ISIS militants killed in cleansing battles of Amiriyah". Iraqi News.
- Matt Bradley (31 January 2016). "Iraqi Blockade of Occupied Fallujah Takes Toll on Civilians". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Iraq: Fallujah Siege Starving Population". Human Rights Watch. 7 April 2016.
- "90,000 people are trapped in the ISIS-held city of Fallujah — and they're running out of food". Vox. 9 April 2016.
- "Iraqi forces advance against Daesh stronghold in west Anbar province". Al Bawaba. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- Loaa Adel (1 February 2016). "Army forces advance to liberate Albu Shehab & Albu Shagl areas in Khalidiya Island". Iraqi News. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Iraq Situation Report: January 26 – February 1, 2016" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War.
- Loveday Morris (1 February 2016). "Trapped by the Islamic State, Iraqis in Fallujah say they are going hungry, too". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Iraqi troops fully capture Ramadi". The Financial Express. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (15 February 2016). "Joint forces begin military operation to free Karmat Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (19 February 2016). "Security forces advance into Karmat Fallujah, kill dozens of ISIS fighters". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Loveday Morris (20 February 2016). "Is the Islamic State losing its grip on Fallujah?". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Loveday Morris (19 February 2016). "Islamic State faces new trouble in Fallujah as Sunni tribesmen revolt". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "ISIS Beating Woman Triggers Fallujah Clashes: Officials". NBC News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Fighting In Iraq's Fallujah 'Stops After IS Group Seizes Residents'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (21 February 2016). "Military reinforcements arrived in Fallujah, security forces prepare to storm the city". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Official: Airstrikes kill 30 ISIS militants in east Fallujah". Rudaw. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (25 February 2016). "Liberation of Fallujah will be faster than Ramadi, says Anbar Governor". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Loaa Adel (25 February 2016). "Security forces cleanse Albu Daeig, kill 19 ISIS militans". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (26 February 2016). "Security forces will arrive at New Fallujah Bridge, says Anbar Council". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "600 ISIS Fighters Flee Fallujah in Northern Iraq". abna24. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (27 February 2016). "600 ISIS fighters fled from Fallujah to Mosul". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (28 February 2016). "Volunteer forces repel ISIS attack on al-Karma, Anbar". Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "The Battle for Iraq is Reaching its Climax: Breakdown of the Battlefields". 1001 Iraqi Thoughts. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Iraqi Forces Kill 150 Islamic State Fighters Near Fallujah, Army says". Wall Street Journal. 4 April 2016.
- "Iraq halts ISIL offensive as more ground troops needed". Mindanao Examiner. 7 April 2016.
- "10 civilians killed as Iraqi army shells Fallujah". 9 April 2016.
- "22 IS militants killed, hundreds of families return to Ramadi". Shanghai Daily. 10 April 2016.
- "Iraq: ISIS Wali of south Fallujah killed by coalition airstrike". abna24. 21 April 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (26 April 2016). "8 dead, 13 wounded in aerial bombing in central Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- "11 IS militants killed in clashes in western Iraq". Xinhua. 27 April 2016.
- Loaa Adel (28 April 2016). "International coalition kills 15 ISIS members north of Karma". Iraqi News. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (1 May 2016). "Anbar Operations announces killing 7 ISIS elements in central Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (2 May 2016). "25 ISIS fighters killed, wounded in battles west of Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- "Iraqi army advances into Fallujah, recapturing two areas, strategic road". Rudaw Media Network. 3 May 2016.
- "Iraqi forces free four villages in Anbar, 30 IS terrorists killed". Business Standard. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- "Une "nouvelle approche onusienne" pour lutter contre Boko Haram". Agence Anadolu. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (5 May 2016). "18 ISIS members killed, wounded in dispute on amount of money in Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (8 May 2016). "Al-Hashed al-Sha'bi militia kills 25 ISIS militants in security operation south of Fallujah". Iraqi News. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- "18 IS militants killed in airstrike, bomb blast in Iraq's Anbar". Xinhua. 8 May 2016.
- Amre Sarhan (10 May 2016). "Iraqi army bombard 20 ISIS rocket launchers in Anbar Province". Iraqi News. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- ISIS uses 2,000 families in Iraq’s Fallujah as ‘human shields’, Kashmirhorizon.in
- Desk, News (15 May 2016). "ISIS attack kills 100 Iraqi soldiers in Fallujah: Al-Amaq". Al-Masdar News.
- "ISIL claims Iraq's Ameriyat Fallujah attack". Al Jazeera. 15 May 2016.
- "Iraqi army says preparing to retake Daesh-held Fallujah". Gulf News. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- "ISIL death squads "shoot to kill" civilians in Fallujah". The Independent. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- "Iraqi army preparing to retake Fallujah". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Tim Hume and Mohammed Tawfeeq (26 May 2016). "Iraqi troops retake key town from ISIS in Falluja offensive". CNN.
- "Iraqi military claims advances in Islamic State-held Fallujah". The Washington Post. 23 May 2016.
- "Mixed Iraqi force prepares for push into militant stronghold of Fallujah". The Washington Post. 24 May 2016.
- "Iraqi forces advance as Fallujah offensive begins". Kurdistan24. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- "Iraqi, allied militias advance on Fallujah; new tactics squeeze ISIS". Rudaw English. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- Prince, Sam. "PHOTOS: ISIS Propaganda Shows Battles Near Fallujah, Iraq". Heavy.com. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
- "Iraq forces in major push against IS in Anbar". Yahoo News. 19 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Iraq begins 'broad operation' against ISIS in Anbar". Al Arabiya. 19 March 2016.
- "Daesh terrorists kill 50 Iraqi citizens in Iraqi Fallujah, Mosul". Press TV. 31 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "ISIS burns 15 civilians to death for trying to escape Fallujah". ARA News. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "ISIL Terrorists Kidnap Over 100 Residents in Fallujah". Fars News. 14 April 2016.
- Cockburn, Patrick (24 May 2016). "Isis in Iraq: Jihadists unleash death squads as Iraqi forces advance on stronghold of Fallujah". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2016.