Hundreds of Daesh (Islamic State) extremists attempted to take advantage of the ongoing evacuation of the besieged city of Fallujah by blending in with fleeing civilians.
More than 500 alleged Daesh terrorists have been arrested by Iraqi forces as they tried to flee Fallujah, one of the terrorist group’s strongholds in the western Anbar province, Daily Sabah reported.
According to police in the Anbar province, extremists tried to leave besieged Fallujah by using fake IDs.
“We have arrested 546 suspected terrorists who had fled by taking advantage of the movements of displaced families over the past two weeks,” said Hadi Rzayej, the police chief for Anbar province.
“Daesh (IS) is fleeing among the civilians, we have arrested many and are investigating the suspects,” said Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, the commander in charge of the operation to recapture Fallujah.
There are estimated to still be 1,000-2,000 Daesh members at the scene of fighting. Government forces are thoroughly screening the fleeing civilians, separating teenagers and adults.
Fallujah, located about 65 kilometers to the west of Baghdad, was seized by Daesh in the beginning of 2014. On May 23, 2016, the country’s authorities announced the start of an operation to liberate the city.
On June 11 the Iraqi Army opened a safe corridor on the southwest of the city, allowing thousands of civilians seek shelter from the fighting. UN deputy representative to Iraq Lise Grande said Monday that over 7,000 people reached displacement camps, organized by the government of Iraq.
According to al-Saadi, it is problematic for Daesh fighters to escape Fallujah, which is almost completely cut off from the rest of its self-imposed caliphate.