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    Fighters from the Iraqi pro-government forces watch smoke billow during a military operation against the Islamic State (IS) group near Amriyat al-Fallujah, west of the capital Baghdad in the Anbar province, on May 5, 2016

    US Ready to Aid Civilians Trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

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    Amid a spike in civilian deaths in the Iraqi city of Fallujah due to heavy shelling by Daesh, the United States expressed readiness to deliver assistance to the city's residence one they come out of it.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States is ready to deliver assistance to Iraqi civilians when they come out of the city of Fallujah amid the ongoing offensive by security forces against the Islamic State (IS, or Daesh), US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq Joseph Pennington told Sputnik on Thursday.

    "We [the United States] and others in the international community and the NGO community are prepared when civilians come out of Fallujah to provide them with the assistance that they need," Pennington said.

    On Wednesday, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the United States was deeply concerned about the civilian population that was trapped in Fallujah amid the start of the Iraqi military’s offensive against the Islamic State.

    According to UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, an estimated 50,000 civilians, including at least 20,000 children, are unable to leave the besieged city at the moment. 

    "We and our partners continue to hear alarming reports of civilian casualties in Fallujah due to heavy shelling, of several hundred families being used as human shields by ISIL [Islamic State], and of children at risk of forced recruitment by fighting parties or of being separated from their families," O’Brien said in a statement.

    The safety of Iraqi civilians, Pennington added, is a very high consideration for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi as security forces get ready to conduct the military operation with the support of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State.

    The United Nations reported earlier that the Islamic State has moved families to the city center to shield militants from Iraqi forces.

    Fallujah became an Islamic State stronghold in 2014. On May 22, the Iraqi government deployed at least 20,000 troops to combat the terrorist group, but the offensive stalled this week because of concern over civilian casualties.

    The Iraqi Army has taken heights located in the southeastern regions of Fallujah that were earlier under the control of the Islamic State — prohibited in numerous countries including the United States and Russia — the deputy head of the Anbar Province said on Thursday.


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    civilian casualties, UN, Daesh, U.S. Department of State, United States, Fallujah, Iraq
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