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ntinuing their relentless battle from Islamic State stronghold, facing machine gun fire, artillery fire, and the constant threat of IEDs. The Iraqi army pushing forward towards Fallujah, after being forced to temporarily halt their offensive on Tuesday. On a visit to Fallujah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, telling reporters the delay was due to the rising number of civilian casualties.
> Many civilians are still inside Fallujah. And the number of civilians who have managed to flee is still few. We gave civilians inside Fallujah the option to either flee through safe exits we guaranteed for them or stay in their houses. IS fighters launching a counterattack on the southern gate of the city, attention now turning to the civilians trapped within.
Amid rumors of the militants using whole families as human shields, 20,000 children are still living in the besieged enclave. UNICEF warning they are facing extreme violence, and worse, could be forced into fighting themselves. The offensive was launched by the Iraqi army on the 23rd of May. So far, 30 civilians and 20 militants have reportedly been killed.
The assault to retake Fallujah likely to be one of the biggest battles ever fought against the Islamic State. Baghdad says the operation is a potential turning point in the battle. But it's also a real test of the army's ability to capture territory while protecting civilians.