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Iraq Launches Operation To Retake Fallujah From Islamic State

Iraqi pro-government forces advance towards the city of Fallujah, as part of a major assault to retake the city from Islamic State on May 23.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has announced the launch of military operations to retake Fallujah from Islamic State (IS) militants.

In a televised address late on May 22, Abadi said Iraqi forces were "approaching a moment of great victory" against the militants. Fallujah is about 65 kilometers west of Baghdad.

Iraqi officials later said ground fighting was taking place around the IS-controlled town of Garma, east of Fallujah.

The announcements follows territorial gains elsewhere by Iraqi ground troops against IS, most recently the capture of the western town of Rutba, located 380 kilometers west of Baghdad, on the edge of Anbar Province.

IS still controls significant patches of Iraqi territory in the country's north and west including the country's second-largest city, Mosul.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters