Iraqi forces have begun their push to re-take Fallujah, a city that became notorious over a decade ago for its tenacious resistance to occupying US forces.
There’s no reason to believe that progress on the battlefield will come easier this time around.
Fallujah is a major city in Iraq’s Anbar province, located just 70 km from Baghdad, and home to a predominantly Sunni population. This sympathetic ear from the locals – at least initially – helped it become the first major urban center to slip from Baghdad’s grip back in late 2013-2014. The city has been controlled by Islamic State (ISIS) ever since.
The Iraqi government is trying to change all that now by scoring a major victory in the south ahead of the real prize of Mosul. Yet any early triumphalism on the battlefield should be tempered by the guerilla nature of the ISIS campaign, and the ease with which sectarian clashes could break out.
The third battle of Fallujah projects to be a long and bloody one.