Baghdad: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday announced the start of a military operation to retake the city of Fallujah from the Islamic State group.
"We are beginning the operation to liberate Fallujah," he said in a statement. "The Iraqi flag will be raised high over the land of Fallujah."
The Joint Operations Command also issued a statement announcing the beginning of operations to take back Fallujah, an IS bastion which lies only 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad and has been out of government control since January 2014.
On Sunday, Iraq`s military warned civilians still in Fallujah -- estimated to number in the tens of thousands -- to leave the city.