Iraqi pushes forward to capture Fallujah as fears for civilians trapped inside it mount

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As Iraqi forces pressed an offensive Tuesday to dislodge Islamic State militants from Fallujah, conditions are worsening for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the city, and a leading aid group raised alarm over an unfolding “human catastrophe.”

IS fighters launched a fierce counterattack on the southern edge of the city, slowing the progress of the elite Iraqi counterterrorism troops, and the militants reportedly corralled civilians into a single neighborhood for use as human shields.

Iraqi counterterrorism forces face off with Islamic State militants on the southern edge of Fallujah, Iraq, on Tuesday, a day after launching an operation to retake the militant-held city with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

Iraqi counterterrorism forces face off with Islamic State militants on the southern edge of Fallujah, Iraq, on Tuesday, a day after launching an operation to retake the militant-held city with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

Iraqi forces repelled the four-hour counterattack a day after entering the southern part of Fallujah with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. The dawn attack unfolded in the Nuaimiya area, most of which was captured by Iraqi troops on Monday, two special forces officers told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

IS militants used tunnels and snipers, and targeted Iraqi forces with six explosives-laden cars that were destroyed before they reached their targets, the officers said. Iraqi forces suffered casualties, but no details were given.

The clashes subsided by Tuesday afternoon, but the officers said progress was slowed by roadside bombs the militants left behind. The troops also paused to destroy tunnels in the area. Since Monday, 106 militants have been killed, the officers said.

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