Operation Fallujah: 7000 residents escape via 'safe corridor'

Operation Fallujah: 7000 residents escape via 'safe corridor'
2 min read
13 June, 2016
The Iraqi army has established a safe corridor for thousands of Fallujah residents trapped inside the city, allowing 7000 people to flee, the UN said Monday.
Thousands of residents have escaped the city in recent days [AFP]
An estimated 7,000 residents have escaped Iraq's Fallujah via a 'safe corridor' in the last 24 hours, the UN revealed on Monday.

Civilians from the war-torn city escaped the intense fighting through a safe passage established by the Iraqi army, UN deputy representative to Iraq Lise Grande said.

The mass migration out of Fallujah exerted pressure on eight UN camps erected outside of the city with reports suggesting shelters were now full and "overwhelmed".

"The people coming out of Fallujah lost everything," she said. "They are running with absolutely nothing."

An estimated 24,000 have fled IS-held areas since a wide scale offensive was launched to battle the militant group in May but refugee organisations insist at least 50,000 still remain within the borders.

"The army opened a safe corridor for families fleeing from Fallujah through al-Salam intersection," an officer with the Joint Operations Command supervising the fight against IS said.

The news was initially reported by the Norwegian Refugee Council on Sunday who claimed "the latest figure we have is that 4,000 individuals have managed to get out over the past 24 hours," the NRC's regional media adviser Karl Schembri said.

"We are of course relieved, but it also means we are completely overwhelmed as a humanitarian community".

Schembri said that the general aid effort in Iraq was massively underfunded, hampering the delivery of urgent relief.

On Friday, 18 people were killed by the Islamic State as they attempted to escape the city via the al-Salam intersection.

"A number of residents were trying to flee and as they neared the al-Salam intersection, Daesh opened fire on them, killing 18 and wounding dozens," a senior officer at the Joint Operations Command told AFP using another acronym for IS.

On Sunday, Iraq's elite forces continued to make progress in the fight against IS the recapture of another district in central Fallujah.

The forces are now thought to be within three kilometres of the main government compound, Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the operation's overall commander, told AFP.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition air strikes advanced towards Qayyarah south of the main IS hub of Mosul.