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Celebrations as Iraqi forces close in on Islamic State

Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 00:44

Iraqi forces celebrate the recapture of the Garma district on the eastern outskirts of Falluja city from Islamic State militants. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Iraqi forces on Thursday (May 26) dislodged Islamic State militants from Garma, a village to the east of the city of Falluja, during the fourth day of an assault to retake the militant stronghold just west of Baghdad, as international concern mounted for the security of civilians. Falluja, a bastion of the Sunni Muslim jihadists 50 km (30 miles) from Baghdad, was the first city to fall to Islamic State, in January 2014. Six months later, the group declared a caliphate spanning large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Patrolling the streets of Garma on foot and military vehicles, Iraqi forces celebrated the recapturing of the district, firing into the air, cheering and taking pictures. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the offensive despite concerns that it could divert resources from a push later this year to retake Mosul, Islamic State's de facto capital in Iraq, and in the face of months of political chaos since his plan to appoint a cabinet of independent ministers - in a bid to fight corruption and patronage - was blocked by parliament. Shi'ite Muslim politicians stepped up calls on Abadi to attack Falluja after a series of devastating bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, claimed by Islamic State, an ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group. Local Sunni tribes and a coalition of mostly Shi'ite militias are supporting the army in the battle against Islamic States, whose forces in the city number between 500 and 700, according to a U.S. military estimate. The militias, including some backed by Shi'ite power Iran, may be restricted to operating outside the city, as they largely were in the battle to retake Ramadi six months ago, to avoid aggravating sectarian tensions.

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Celebrations as Iraqi forces close in on Islamic State

Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 00:44