Last night, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi declared the “Zero Hour” for the Fallujah offensive, marking the beginning of the long fight to recapture the city from the Islamic State.
Originally populated by 330,000 people, civilians have been fleeing the city for months ahead of this offensive. Reportedly, the only civilians left in the city are Islamic State sympathizers and those who are tied directly to the city. The city has been under the control of the Islamic State since January of 2014, when Iraqi Security Forces along with local tribesmen battled Islamic State militants and lost the city after suffering around 100 casualties.
For some, this upcoming offensive draws similarities to the Second Battle of Fallujah, known as Operation Phantom Fury in the United States. 13,000 coalition forces fought 5,000 Iraqi insurgents to fully capture Fallujah. Both sides suffered relatively high casualties, with it being the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War. Civilians were also evacuated at the time of Operation Phantom Fury.
The city suffered serious infrastructure damage after the operation, and is expected to suffer the same level of damage, if not more.