(CAMP TARIQ, Iraq) —Iraqi forces battling their way into Fallujah repelled a four-hour attack by the Islamic State group in the city’s south on Tuesday, a day after first moving into the southern edges of the militant-held city with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.
Also Tuesday, a leading aid group raised alarm over the unfolding “human catastrophe” in Fallujah, where an estimated 50,000 people remain trapped as the fight intensifies and renewed calls on warring parties to open up safe corridors for civilians to flee.
The attack started at dawn in Fallujah’s Nuaimiya area where Iraqi troops captured almost 85 percent of the ground the previous day, two officers with the special forces told The Associated Press.
IS militants used tunnels, deployed snipers and sent six explosives-laden cars to hit the troops but they were destroyed before reaching their targets, the officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing campaign.
Iraqi forces suffered casualties, but the officers didn’t give details.
Nuaimiya is a sprawling mainly agricultural area in Fallujah’s south and Monday’s push into it was the first attempt by Iraqi forces to enter the city after focusing on dislodging the militants from surrounding areas to tighten the siege.
Read More: Iraqi Forces in Fallujah Repel ISIS Attack in City’s South | TIME