By Omar al-Jaffal, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The city of Fallujah in Anbar province has been under the Islamic State’s (IS) control for nearly two years. When asked about the living conditions there, Mahmoud Falluji (a pseudonym) said, “I reached a point where I was ready to slaughter a cat so my family and I could eat it.”
Al-Monitor met with Falluji, a former construction worker, in Baghdad after he paid IS militants $1,500 to let him, his wife and two children leave Fallujah. IS usually forces each person to pay $1,000 to leave, but Falluji was able to make a deal.
Falluji collected this sum from his relatives and friends after he realized that staying in the city would be devastating. He said he was lucky to leave, because IS soon after imposed a blockade on the city and prevented anyone else from leaving. He added, “Life in Fallujah has become dreadful. Children are wasting away from the lack of food.” Falluji still has family in Fallujah, and he calls to check up on them.
Falluji came across pictures from the Syrian city of Madaya under siege by the Syrian regime. He said, “The situation in Fallujah is very similar to that of Madaya. But none of the political parties are talking about the pain of the besieged residents.”