Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said central Fallujah was in the full control of Iraqi security forces, hours after they seized the city’s government compound from ISIS. "Fallujah has returned to the embrace of the country," he said on state television late Friday, while warning that fighting was ongoing in pockets of the city.
Al Abadi praised Iraqi security forces for their efforts during the nearly monthlong battle to reclaim the city from the extremists, who seized it in 2014. Thousands of people have fled in the past two years amid the terror group’s reign and subsequent fighting. "We promised to liberate the city and now our heroic security forces fulfilled this promise," he said.
The seizure of the central government compound earlier in the day was the first significant victory inside the city for Iraqi security forces in the weekslong battle against Islamic State. The military said government forces had surrounded Fallujah General Teaching Hospital, a downtown building they said the terror group had used as a command center. Fallujah was the first major city seized by Islamic State in 2014 during a blitz that saw the Sunni Muslim extremists take over about one-third of Iraq.