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Iraqi families seen fleeing Fallujah

Women and children were seen arriving at a refugee camp. Credit: APTN

Hundreds of Iraqi families have been seen fleeing the city of Fallujah as Iraqi forces continued to retake the city from so-called Islamic State.

Government officials have said they were receiving hundreds of internally displaced families on a daily basis, and are transferring them to safe areas.

Aid groups have feared up to 50,000 civilians are still trapped inside the besieged city, which has been under IS control for over two years.

Fallujah is the last major city in western Iraq that was still held by the extremist group.

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Iraqi forces 'recapture Fallujah from Islamic State'

Iraqi forces have recaptured the local municipal building in Fallujah from fighters belonging to the so-called Islamic State militant group, state television has said.

The victory for the country's soldiers symbolises government control of the city nearly four weeks after a new offensive began.

A military statement said the federal police had raised the Iraqi flag above the building on Friday morning. They will continue to pursue the ultra-hardline militants, who continue to hold other areas, the statement added.

Suicide bombings in Iraq kill 27 and injure dozens

The bombing in Baghdad was in a predominantly Shiite area. Credit: APTN

At least 27 people have been killed and 35 injured in two suicide car bombings in Iraq.

The so-called Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attacks and officials fear the death toll could rise.

The first attack targeted a commercial area in Baghdad leaving 15 dead, while 12 more died at an army checkpoint in the town of Taji, 12 miles north of the capital.

Police said the bombing in Baghdad came after a car was parked in a crowded area, whist in Taji, a bomber drove his explosive-laden car into an army checkpoint.

The attacks come a day after Iraqi special forces moved into the IS-held city of Fallujah as part of a large-scale military operation launched last month.

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UNICEF: 20,000 children trapped in Fallujah

Shi'ite fighters gather near Falluja, Iraq on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

An estimated 20,000 children are trapped in the city of Fallujah as Iraqi forces continue their fight against so-called Islamic State, UNICEF has said.

There are warnings of a "human catastrophe" unfolding in the city, with around 50,000 civilians thought to the stuck with a lack of food, medicine, safe drinking water and electricity.

The UN have reported people starving to death in the city and being killed for refusing to fight for terror groups.

Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting, strict procedures for security screening and separation from their families.

Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardized as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war.

UNICEF calls on all parties to protect children inside Fallujah, provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city and grant safe and secure environments to displaced civilians.

– UNICEF statement

Aid agency fears 'human catastrophe' in Fallujah

Iraqi security forces gather near Falluja Credit: Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani

An aid agency has warned of a "human catastrophe" unfolding in the Iraq city of Fallujah.

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said only one family had managed to escape the besieged town on Monday.

"Warring parties must guarantee civilians safe exit now, before it's too late and more lives are lost", Egeland said.

Egeland's comments come on the day Iraqi forces repelled a four-hour counterattack, a day after entering the southern part of the city.

He added a lack of food, medicine, safe drinking water and electricity is "pushing families to the brink of desperation".

It is estimated that 50,000 civilians are still inside Fallujah and humanitarian groups have renewed calls on both sides to open up safe corridors for non-combatants to flee.

This appears unlikely as IS and the Iraqi forces need to agree on a cessation of hostilities - whilst Iraqi authorities want to prevent IS fighters from escaping the city by mixing with the fleeing civilian population.

RAF conduct air strikes against IS in battle for Falluja

File picture of an RAF Typhoon taking off Credit: PA

British forces have carried out airstrikes in support of the Iraqi battle to free Fallujah from the so-called Islamic State.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed RAF aircraft attacked terrorist positions in the militant-held city on Monday, as Iraqi special forces launched their first ground assault on the territory.

The MOD said Tornados, Typhoons and remotely controlled Reapers offered air support to Iraqi troops in the days leading up to Monday's assault.

Stockpiles of terrorist weapons had been destroyed, including a building north-west of Fallujah where a "large group of terrorists" had been reportedly preparing for a counter-attack.

Fallujah is situated 40 miles west of Baghdad and has been under IS control for more than two years.

IS 'use hundreds of families as human shields' in Fallujah

Iraqi security forces gather near Fallujah. Credit: Reuters

So-called Islamic State militants have been using "several hundred families" as human shields during the Iraqi army's assault on Fallujah, according to reports received by the United Nations refugee agency.

Around 3,700 people, including 624 families, have fled the city over the past week since the offensive to retake it from IS began.

"We have reports of casualities among people in the city centre in Fallujah due to heavy shelling, including seven members of one family on May 28," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said.

"There are also reports of several hundred families being used as human shields by ISIL, in the centre of Falluja."

Around 1,300 people are staying in the al-Iraq camp in the Ameriyat al –Falluja district. The UNHCR understands some 500 men and boys aged over 12 are held for security screening.

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