Iraqi forces said that they have arrested over 500 suspected militants who had fled the Iraqi city of Fallujah with civilians.
“We have arrested 546 suspected terrorists who had fled by taking advantage of the movements of displaced families over the past two weeks,” Hadi Rzayej, police chief of Iraq’s western conflict-ridden province of Anbar in which Fallujah is located, said on Monday.
“Many of them were using fake IDs,” he noted, adding that separate screening is conducted among civilian boys and adults fleeing the area. Iraqi government forces release some after a few hours while others are to undergo more thorough interrogation.
Iraqi forces have been engaged in a major offensive to liberate Fallujah, located some 70 kilometers west of the capital, Baghdad.
The Iraqi army on Saturday opened a safe exit route for an estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in the center of the Deash-held city.
The Iraqi army, backed by volunteer forces, has been engaged in extensive battles and made gains in pushing the militants out of the country’s cities and villages.