Iraqi security forces gather on the outskirts of Fallujah as they prepare an operation aimed at retaking the city from Daesh.
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Iraq's military said Sunday it was preparing to launch an offensive to retake the Daesh (ISIS) stronghold of Fallujah and told residents to get ready to leave before fighting started.Families who could not flee should raise white flags to mark their location in the city 50 km west of Baghdad, the military's media unit said in a statement on state television.Fallujah, a long-time bastion of Sunni militants, was the first city to fall to Daesh, in January 2014, six months before the group swept through large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria.Essawi told a local television channel that more than 75,000 civilians remained in Fallujah, in keeping with a recent U.S. military estimate of 60,000 to 90,000 .Following recent government offensives in Rutba and Hit, control of Fallujah would secure the road more than 500 km from Baghdad to the Jordanian border and northwards to Haditha, 190 km northwest of the capital.
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