At least 16 civilians and dozens of anti-government fighters were killed on Friday when Iraqi security forces launched attacks around the city of Fallujah that has been seized by militant groups for months, military and police said.
The ongoing operations were launched by Iraqi army troops, anti- terrorism forces and interior ministry forces and in cooperation with tribal leaders in Anbar province, the Iraqi defense ministry said in a statement.
Dozens of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL), an al-Qaida Branch in Iraq, were killed in the operations that aimed at expelling militants from Fallujah, the statement said.
A local police source said the Iraqi forces launched the offensive around Fallujah from all four directions supported by heavy bombardment of some areas where militants were supposed to be operating.
Many people who had been staying in Fallujah seemed to leave the city as random artillery and mortar shelling struck many districts in the city since the mid-night until Friday morning, killing 9 civilians and wounding 28 others, the source said.
The shelling caused material damage to a number of houses, including Al-kulafaa Mosque in the central part of Fallujah, he added.