Iraqi forces opened up a “relatively safe exit route” from Fallujah over the weekend. Thousands have used it the first day it was open.
The Norwegian Refugee Council says that at least 4,000 people streamed through the secured “al-Salam Junction” in the first 24 hours. Al-Salam means “Peace.”
The Wild Card – the Shia “Popular Mobilization” militia
According to the Institute for the Study of War, the Iraqi forces were able to secure several areas around the city. They effectively surrounded Fallujah on June 5. But right behind them is the Shi’ite militia, which has been pressing to be allowed into the fight. And not everyone trusts the Shia militia, specifically the Sunni population of Fallujah.
The Popular Mobilization has maintained that they do not engage in “systemic” abuse in the area, however claims of Shi’a militias “kidnapping, killing, and harassing” Sunni civilians, most recently in Saqlawiyah following its recapture, continue to surface. The Iraqi Government cannot guarantee its long-term stability as long as Sunni populations do not feel protected or represented by their government and are possibly more inclined to welcome extremist ideology.
Iraq has been fighting on several fronts in an effort to wrest their country from ISIS. They plan to launch the major offensive against ISIS in Mosul as soon as they remove the insurgents from Fallujah. But as any United States Marine can tell you, Fallujah is not a battle easily fought.