After nearly a month of intense fighting, Islamic State fighters appear to have retreated from some of their main fighting positions in Fallujah. Reports from earlier today say the Iraqi forces have advanced to the center of the city, retaking a large hospital, several central neighborhoods and the main government compound. While this is a symbolic victory against IS, our model tells us that its overall importance will be somewhat muted.
Though the Islamic State has occupied the city since the end of 2013, its fighters have retreated, with some regrouping to Fallujah’s western neighborhoods and others heading further west into areas more firmly controlled by IS. According to a U.S. spokesperson, approximately a quarter of the city is under the control of U.S.-backed coalition forces, and after a difficult start to the Fallujah operation, there is optimism on the ground that Iraqi forces will be able to make continued progress in taking the rest of the city.
The Iraqi commander