“Hard fighting remains” after Fallujah freed from IS – US says

WASHINGTON, June 27 (KUNA) — US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter warned Monday that “hard fighting remains ahead” in Iraq against the so-called Islamic State (IS/ISIL), following the liberation of Fallujah from the group’s control.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi and the Iraqi people for their progress in freeing the city,” Carter said in a statement. The US military is “proud” to have supported the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), he added.
“The operation in Fallujah has been a significant challenge for the ISF and for the coalition. It will not be the last,” he cautioned. “Hard fighting remains ahead, as does the vital task of caring for the residents of Fallujah displaced by ISIL’s violence and beginning to rebuild the city so that its people may safely return.” Carter also urged the Iraqi government to “complete the investigations … launched to address alleged abuses of civilians.” State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said the US continues to be “concerned about the humanitarian situation for Iraqis fleeing the fighting” in Fallujah, but noted “significant progress” by the UN “to provide for the basic necessities of internally displaced persons.” The Obama Administration announced last week that it is hosting a donors conference for Iraqi civilians on July 20, along with Canada, Germany, and Japan. The amount collected will go to the UN’s Fund for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) in Iraq. (end) ys.bs