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Iraqi Forces Retake Fallujah Center From IS Fighters

Iraqi security forces vehicles are seen in Fallujah on June 17.

Iraqi forces have retaken the main government building in Fallujah in their quest to flush Islamic State (IS) fighters from the city.

Haidar al-Obeidi, an Iraqi special-forces commander, told AP that his troops entered the city center early on June 17 after intense fighting with IS militants and with air support from the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi Air Force.

The advance is a major breakthrough for Iraqi forces in their monthlong operation to recapture Fallujah, which has been under IS control since mid-2014, when the extremist group took over large parts of northern and western Iraq.

Obeid said Iraqi forces had begun clearing roadside bombs near the city's government complex, which includes city offices and a police station.

Iraqi officials said the IS fighters were redeploying to the western part of Fallujah.

Fallujah is just 50 kilometers west of Baghdad.

Iraqi forces are estimated to have control of roughly half of Fallujah after their latest advances.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been forced from their homes since the start of the operation last month.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP