Saadi: A battle such as that can only be difficult as it aimed to liberate a city that has completely been under the control of terrorists for the past two years, during which [IS] maintained a large presence, with its militants planning, training and preparing for all aspects of this battle, particularly by digging trenches and tunnels, as well as mining the land, government institutions and other buildings. But this battle was decisive for [IS], whose defeat was an important setback and sign that the battle for Mosul will be decided in favor of Iraq and the Iraqis.
Battles raged in Fallujah for days. Yet sparing civilian lives remained atop our priorities, despite the fact that it delayed victory and caused us untold difficulties because [IS] used Fallujah civilians as human shields.
The civilians that I was in contact with inside Fallujah always maintained that entering the city would be impossible for us to achieve, due to the fact that [IS] was strongly entrenched and highly prepared for the fight. Even when I reached the outskirts of the city, people inside Fallujah continued to inform me that breaching its defenses would be impossible. Still, in the end, we succeeded in completely liberating the city, with everyone surprised that Iraqi security forces managed to enter this city, considered to be the second most important stronghold for [IS] after Mosul.
The most difficult phase was when we encircled and stormed Fallujah, with the period extending from May 30 to June 10 witnessing the harshest fighting, as the Counterterrorism Service single-handedly killed some 750 [IS] militants.
Al-Monitor: Does [IS] still have a presence in Anbar, and are their numbers truly as high as indicated by news of their convoys being targeted in Amiriyah Fallujah?
Saadi: Hundreds of vehicles attempted to flee Anbar toward Karbala and the desert. But the Iraqi air force successfully bombed and destroyed them. These were the remnants of [IS] troops in the Khalidiya Island, and I think that their presence there is nil, or that small numbers remain that will be dealt with shortly.