By Dr. Monique M. Maldonado
Contributor, In Homeland Security
On June 26, 2016, the month-long war with Iraq and the Islamic State officially ended and the country now has control over Fallujah. Iraqi Army commander, Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahad al Saadi, publicly announced that they have taken their city back that was once controlled by one of the most dangerous and insidious terrorist groups in the world. The Associated Press stated that Fallujah was “fully liberated from the Islamic State group, giving a major boost to the country’s security and political leaders in its fight against the extremists.”
Taking control of Fallujah is a significant milestone for Iraq, because it proves that their military and law enforcement strength is fully capable of performing with little to no U.S. ground support. This victory was proved successful and that Iraqi forces can now be prepared to defeat the next challenge, which is recapturing Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Fallujah has been under the Islamic State’s control since early 2014 and it is evident that it is going to take pristine militant precision in order to recapture Mosul. Speculation of discord within Iraqi security forces proves that it will not be an easy road for the next war.
Nonetheless, now is a great time for Iraqis to celebrate. Fallujah was the first major city captured by ISIS and now it is back under their control after two long years.
Beginning May 22, 2016, the United States directed the mission with airstrikes while Iraq’s “elite” counterterrorism force entered the northern location of al-Julan, advancing towards Fallujah where it was under heavy control by ISIS. There was much excitement over the victory and multiple officials highlighted the fact that the defeat was short and sweet. Sabah al-Noman, a spokesman for the Iraqi’s counterterrorism force, stated that it did not take more than two hours for CTS [counterterrorism force] to rake Jolan. He also stated that ISIS “did not fire a single bullet.” Even with this defeat, the country still faces continued challenges with ISIS in control for multiple cities throughout Iraq. Caroline Mortimer of The Independent stated that ISIS still controls “significant areas of northern and western Iraq.” It is speculated that at a particular time, ISIS controlled nearly a third of Iraq and Syria.
85,000 Forced to Flee from Fallujah
With such a victorious defeat, there still remains a horrid and unfathomable aftermath for Iraqi citizens. When troops entered Fallujah, thousands of citizens fled to seek refuge, but experienced more than expected in terms of harsh living and lack of necessities. ISIS’s primary mode of attack were incessant bombing, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent bystanders and leaving many without homes. As cited by the Gulf Times, “85,000 people were forced to flee their homes, leaving many crammed in hastily set-up camps with scant food or water.” With such damage, senior officials state that the destruction is in fact not as significant as what has been revealed to the public. As cited by W.G. Dunlop of Yahoo!, General Saadi emphasized that the “percentage of destruction in Fallujah is no more than 10 percent.”
Control of Iraq
The country still has a long road ahead as their military and law enforcement battles ISIS for the entire control of Iraq. Its citizens will have to recover from the aftermath and continue to be resilient and know that one day they will have their homeland that was siphoned by ISIS. The most important logic now is continuing to work with U.S. military and other coalition forces to continue to annihilate ISIS control. But for now, the country has every right to celebrate.
General Saadi is very proud of their defeat and stated to the news media: “From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief…and declare that the Fallujah fight is over.”