With the fall and virtual destruction of the Anbar Provincial capital city of Ramadi earlier this year, Fallujah is the major ISIS city that is closest to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and is the target of a new offensive announced by Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi this weekend.
Fallujah is actually the longesst-held ISIS city in Iraq, falling in January of 2014, when public protests against the Maliki government provided an opening for the ISIS forces to take over parts of the city. Iraqi forces have been surrounding the city in recent months, pending this offensive.
Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul ordered all civilians to flee the city of some 200,000 people, adding that they are providing “corridors” to escape through. This call came in spite of weeks of Iraqi officials claiming ISIS wasn’t allowing anyone to flee.
Neighboring Ramadi, the fate of the larger city must be looming large for Fallujah’s residents, as Ramadi was virtually destroyed in weeks of Iraqi military offensive, and civilians by and large still aren’t able to return to the rubble, nearly six months later.