(MSNBC) BAGHDAD, Iraq — Local ground forces backed by U.S.-led military aircraft launched an operation Monday to storm the ISIS stronghold of Fallujah, officials told NBC News.
The advance marks the latest in a series of attempts to dislodge ISIS militants who have controlled Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, for more than two years.
An Iraqi military spokesman said an operation to retake the center of the city began at 5 a.m. Monday local time (10 p.m. Sunday ET).
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“Our forces now are fighting on the front lines of Fallujah and they are advancing steadily into their targets,” Sabah Nua’man, spokesman for the country’s counter-terrorism forces, said. “No one can tell now when our forces will be able to liberate the city — this depends on many conditions our forces might face on the ground.”