BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of military operations to retake the Islamic State-held held city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad in a televised address late Sunday night.
Iraqi forces are "approaching a moment of great victory" against the Islamic State group, al-Abadi said surrounded by top military commanders from the ministry of defense and the country's elite counterterrorism forces. Fallujah is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad and has been under the control of IS for more than two years.
The announcements follows territorial gains elsewhere by Iraqi ground troops against IS, most recently the capture of the western town of Rutba, located 240 miles (380 kilometers) west of Baghdad, on the edge of Anbar province.
IS still controls significant patches of Iraqi territory in the country's north and west including the country's second largest city of Mosul.