Falluja offensive continues despite human rights concerns

"US urge the Shia militias to stop arbitrary bombing on Falluja"

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi army, police, and Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militias continue the fifth day of the operation to liberate Fallujah despite the rising concern for human rights abuses.

In a late night speech on May 22, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the offensive to retake Falluja, the first Iraqi city to fall into the hands of Islamic State (IS) in early 2014.

After four days of attack in six frontlines, the advancement is slow. So far only a few villages and al-Karma district have been recaptured by Iraqi forces.

The slow advance of the Iraqi army and Shia militias towards Falluja have not been seen as an issue but the main concern the United Nations, US and Sunni Arab tribes raise is the Shia militias' arbitrary bombardment of the city.

Uzal al-Fahdawi, a member of the Anbar Provincial Council in a press conference on Thursday stated that "due to the Hashd al-Shaabi bombardment on the city, 32 civilians were killed and 50 others wounded, including children and women.”

Fahdawi stated that a meeting was held between the US commanders and the Falluja Operation Command to urge the Shia militias stop arbitrary bombing on Falluja and not participate in the offensive inside the Sunni-populated city.

Fahdawi added that “the Shia militias continue bombing the city and making obstacle to the families who are trying to escape Falluja and imprison the men.”

Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, announced in a press conference on Thursday that the UN is “receiving distressing reports of civilians trapped inside Fallujah who are desperate to escape to safety, but can’t.”

According to the Iraqi and UN figures, so far only 800 people have been able to escape the city of Falluja while there are nearly 50,000 civilians trapped inside the city.

The Shia militia commanders reaffirm that Hashd al-Shaabi should participate in the operation and will provide back up for the Iraqi army and police.

“We have made a slow advancement in some frontlines and we will not hurry in advancing towards the city center,” Yousif al-Klabi Hashd al-Shaabi spokesperson told reporters on Thursday.


Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran
Editing by Ava Homa