Two weeks ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi ordered the military offensive against the ISIS-held city of Fallujah halted over fear of killing civilians. The offensive has slowly eaten some empty southern parts of the city, but adding this to weeks of effort surrounding the city and cutting of all access, they seem ready to escalate the offensive, using the exact same excuse they used for halting it.
A couple of additional weeks of siege with no supplies allowed into Fallujah has brought the already vulnerable population closer and closer to starvation, a fact aid groups keep pointing out and Iraqi officials are only too happy to pass along.
Because now, they’re presenting the offensive, and the inevitable large civilian casualties that come with it, as “saving” the starving civilians who they’ve kept from getting any food or water for the past couple of months.
Though Iraqi officials had initially suggested that having all civilians flee was the goal, it was never a very realistic one, with most escape routes cut off from both within and without, and what few Fallujans have escaped being tortured and killed by Shi’ite militias.
There was never really any place for the Fallujans to go anyhow, with some makeshift camps set up nearby, with little food in them for that matter. Traveling deeper into government territory, even for the ones who didn’t get tortured to death, largely isn’t an option, as the Sunni Arab population of Fallujah would be unwelcome in the Shi’ite-dominated east.
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