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UNICEF Says Children In Fallujah Face Extreme Violence

The United Nations’ children’s agency says at least 20,000 children remain trapped inside Fallujah as government forces fight to retake the Iraqi city from Islamic State militants.

"We are concerned over the protection of children in the face of extreme violence," the UNICEF representative in Iraq, Peter Hawkins, said in a statement on June 1.

"Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting" inside the besieged city and "separation from their families" if they manage to leave, he added.

Backed by Shi'ite militias and air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces launched on May 23 an offensive to recapture Fallujah, 70 kilometers west of Baghdad.

On May 30, Iraqi forces began to advance on the city.

Fallujah was the first Iraqi city that fell under control of the ultra-hardline Sunni militants, in January 2014.

About 50,000 civilians remain in the city, according to the United Nations.

Based on reporting by Reuters