18:04 GMT12 May 2021
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    About 3,700 people have fled militant-held regions of Iraqi Fallujah city amid new offensive of Iraqi forces to regain control of the area, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On May 22, the Iraqi government deployed at least 20,000 troops to combat extremists in the city Fallujah, which is under control of IS militants and told residents to flee the city ahead of the operation.

    "Around 3,700 people (624 families) have fled Falluja[h] over the past week, since the new offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the city began, according to figures provided by authorities……Iraqi forces are helping to transport families escaping the city, and have set up a hotline (195) to provide information to people wanting to leave," the UN's refugee agency statement read.

    According to the UNHCR, around 1,300 of the fleeing people remain in a government-run camp Ameriyat al, Fallujah district where UNHCR is operating. Others are staying with relatives or relocated in other state-owned camps.

    Another 500 men and boys over 12-years-old are being checked by security screening, 27 people were released after this procedure yesterday, the UNCHR said.

    On May 28, the UNHCR received reports on casualties resulted by heavy shelling by militants the Fallujah city. Hundreds of families were also reported to have been used as human shields by Daesh.

    Fallujah, located some 42 miles west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, is one of the largest cities in the Anbar province. Fallujah became an Islamist stronghold in 2014. Recent media reports suggested that militants from Daesh, began killing residents attempting to leave the city.


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