With the Iraqi military surrounding the major ISIS city of Fallujah, fighters who were in the villages around the outskirts found themselves no longer able to get back into the city itself, and locals say that instead of simply gearing up for a losing fight in indefensible villages, they suddenly began “disappearing.”
Out in those villages largely to scout and to plant explosives to slow the advance, the ISIS fighters have used their effectiveness at blending into the local populations to get out of the siege area, presumably to join back up with the fighters elsewhere.
This has been a recurring problem with insurgencies like ISIS across the region, as offensives against their territory often causes widespread destruction to the civilian population, but relatively limited impact to the group itself, as its fighters are able to get out of tight spots with comparative ease.
Locals who fled the area around Fallujah report a large amount of IEDs have been planted in the area, both making escape difficult and likely to complicate the ground offensive Iraq’s ongoing shelling seems to be building up to.
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