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Iraqi troops have recaptured a hospital in Fallujah and advanced into a neighborhood as government forces fight to retake the city from the terror group ISIS, officials said Saturday.
Troops continue to clear mines left behind by ISIS as they push into the city, which has been under ISIS control since 2013, an Iraqi military official said.
Friday evening, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi spoke on national TV from the joint command center, congratulating the troops on their victories and delivering a message to ISIS.
"Your leaders promised you that they will withstand, and they did not do so, they retreated and drooped,” al-Abadi said. “You do not have a place in Iraq, you will be judged for all your crimes.”
Fallujah Hospital was liberated Saturday and troops have advanced into the Al-Dhubat neighborhood, the Iraqi joint operation command said.
Troops had surrounded the hospital but were concerned that ISIS could use patients as human shields. More details about how the hospital was captured were not immediately available.
Fallujah was the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS in January of 2014. In late May, Iraqi forces backed by U.S. aircraft launched an offensive to recapture the city.
Friday, Iraqi forces advanced into the center of Fallujah, liberating a majority of the city from ISIS’ grip and raising the national flag over a government building, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
Senior U.S. defense and military officials cautioned Friday that the fight for the city is far from over. Fallujah is around 38 miles west of Baghdad.
More than 3,500 civilians have been killed in Fallujah since the start of military operations and bombing of the town since December of 2013 through Friday, a source at Fallujah Hospital told NBC News.
Many of the dead, 2,648 of the 3,561 killed, have been men, the source said. Three hundred and fifty-two were women and 561 were children, the source said.
Fallujah is the city where more than 100 U.S. troops died and another 1,000 were wounded fighting insurgents in house-to-house battles in 2004.