Iraq screening 20,000 for militants fleeing Fallujah

Iraq screening 20,000 for militants fleeing Fallujah
More than 20,000 civilians fleeing Fallujah are being screened by Iraq's security forces to identify Islamic State militants attempting to escape, the army said on Sunday.
2 min read
26 June, 2016
Hundreds of militants have attempted to flee Fallujah among civilians [AFP]

Iraq is screening 20,000 people leaving Fallujah in a bid to identify Islamic State militants escaping among civilians as it solidifies the liberation of the city from the group on Sunday.

Security forces detained 2,185 suspects and 7,000 more are under investigation, said a spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command.

Another 11,605 have already been released following interrogation.

Hundreds of relatives have demanded information of the fate of men deemed missing after being taken for thorough interrogation.

Some of those screened have accused of using force during the procedure, prompting concerns from international rights groups.

Human Rights Watch called on the government "unravel the web of culpability underlying the government forces' repeated outrages against civilians" earlier this month.

The rights group said it had received reports alleging at least 17 people fleeing the fighting in Fallujah were executed by security forces.

On Sunday, the Iraqi army announced troops had recaptured the city of Fallujah from Islamic State militants just a month after launching an operation against the group.

Elite Iraqi forces "fully liberated" the city and secured full control more than two years since it was captured by IS.

"Today the commander of Fallujah operations Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi announced that the city of Fallujah had been cleared after counter-terrorism forces (CTS) took control of the Jolan neighbourhood," the force's spokesman, Sabah al-Noman, told AFP.

Fallujah, which lies 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall out of government control in 2014, months before IS swept across Iraq and declared its "caliphate".

A major offensive including several factions was launched on May 22 to recapture the city from the Islamic State, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee the fighting through safe passages established by the army.