US commander Col. Christopher Garver contradicted Iraqi claims to have “liberated” Fallujah today, saying that the US believes Iraq only took about a third of the city, and that the rest remains contested with ISIS forces.
Iraqi commanders have presented the attack as a sweeping victory, claiming 2,500 ISIS fighters killed and the Islamist forces confined to only a “handful” of neighborhoods in the city’s northwest, which they expect to take soon.
The curious thing, particularly as relates to the new death toll claims, is that Iraq hasn’t reported much in the way of fighting in Fallujah, rather presenting the offensive as mostly uncontested, and claiming ISIS was trying to “sneak” out of the city disguised as civilians, which was used to justify detention of many fleeing civilians.
The US assessment makes more sense given the lack of fighting and the reports that have only explicitly put Iraqi troops in a few buildings in central Fallujah, along with some areas near the southern wall. That said, it is unusual for the Pentagon to publicly contradict Iraqi claims of sweeping victories, even when they are clearly made up.