A day after announcing a new offensive against the major ISIS city of Fallujah, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi claimed “big successes” in the early going, though as with previous offensives, this success didn’t appear to be in any tangible way.
Fighting was reported in suburbs of Fallujah, but the only territory the military appeared to gain was some farmland to the north of the city, which didn’t appear defended in the first place. Clashes elsewhere appeared inconclusive.
The casualties came entirely in central Fallujah, which Iraqi troops shelled throughout the day. Two ISIS fighters and seven civilians were killed over the day, according to local medical officials, who said the toll will likely be higher, with many more civilians wounded.
Similar claims of quick and decisive progress were seen in December, when Iraqi troops first attacked nearby Ramadi. Despite this, it took months to “clear out” the city, and by then it was virtually destroyed, with Iraqi troops still cleaning up mines and other explosives to this day.
Fallujah has been under ISIS control for far longer than Ramadi, however, with ISIS first taking it in early 2014 and holding it more or less uncontested ever since. The city initially fell amid mass protests against the Maliki government, and probably won’t welcome the government back with open arms.