Top ISIS Commander among 70 Militants Killed in Fallujah
May 28 2016 12:47 PM
Pro-government forces fighters celebrate in the al-Sejar village, in Iraq's Anbar province.
Pro-government forces fighters celebrate in the al-Sejar village, in Iraq's Anbar province, on May 27, 2016, as they take part in a major assault to retake the city of Fallujah, from the Islamic State (IS) group


A top ISIS commander in the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah is among 70 militants killed in coalition air strikes, the US military said.

Colonel Steve Warren said more than 20 strikes have been carried out in the past four days, destroying ISIS positions.

The ISIS commander in the city, Maher Al Bilawi, was killed in bombardments targeting ISIS fighter positions and gun emplacements, Col Warren said.

The raids are in support of Iraqi forces who are trying to retake Fallujah from ISIS. The assault is being carried out by a combined force comprising thousands of Iraqi army troops, the federal police and tribal fighters, Col Warren said.

The colonel warned that it was unclear how long the battle to retake the city would last.

There are dire warnings about conditions in the city.

Some 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the city and have been told via leaflet drops to avoid ISIS areas and put white sheets on their roofs, Col Warren said.

The UN says it has reports of people dying of starvation and being killed for refusing to fight for ISIS.

"We have dramatic reports of the increase of the number of executions of men and older boys, refusing to fight on behalf of ISIS," said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Other reports say a number of people attempting to depart have been executed, or whipped. One man's leg was amputated reportedly," she added.

The UN says hundreds of families were able to flee the city on Friday with the help of government forces.

Fallujah fell to ISIS in 2014, a key moment in its rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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