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Washington Says Air, Artillery Strikes Kill 70 IS Fighters In Fallujah

Iraqi pro-government forces fire an antitank cannon near the Al-Sejar village northeast of Fallujah on May 25.

Washington says that U.S.-led coalition air and artillery strikes have killed 70 fighters with the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, including their leader in the Iraqi city, Mahir al-Bilawi.

U.S. military spokesman Steve Warren said in Baghdad on May 27 that over the last four days, 20 strikes on targets in the besieged city had destroyed IS fighting positions and gun emplacements.

Iraqi forces launched an operation to recapture Fallujah, an IS stronghold located just 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, at the start of this week.

Between 500 and 1,000 IS fighters hold Fallujah, and about 50,000 civilians are trapped inside the city. Iraqi officials say the extremist group is trying to kill civilians who attempt to flee.

Warren said the Iraqi Army was working to establish safe evacuation routes for civilians.

The IS group overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but has been on the defensive for months and have lost significant ground to Iraqi forces.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP