In this Thursday, June 1, 2017 photo, a worker operates machinery in a newly opened water station in Fallujah, Iraq. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
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Even as Iraqi forces in Mosul close in on the last pockets of urban territory still held by Daesh (ISIS), residents of Fallujah in Iraq's Sunni heartland are still struggling to rebuild nearly a year after their neighborhoods were declared liberated from the militants.Dr. Mahdi al-Alak, the secretary-general of the Iraqi Cabinet, said the government has budgeted about $19.5 billion for stabilization-related projects in Anbar Province, where Fallujah is located.Located in the heart of the province, Fallujah has a long history of anti-government sentiment.In 2014, many in Fallujah welcomed Daesh when the militants took over following a bloody government crackdown on thousands of protesters camped out on the city's outskirts to challenge the increasingly sectarian rule of then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.After the fight to retake Fallujah from Daesh, the city was left a ghost town. A dozen schools have been reopened in Fallujah with help from the United Nations, along with pumping and filtration stations that now provide more than 60 percent of the city with running water.Khaldoon Ibrahim, a teacher from Fallujah's Shurta neighborhood said he returned to the city with his family last September, the day he heard civilians were being allowed back in.
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