Iraqi security forces began an operation Monday to retake the city of Fallujah from Islamic State extremists, storming the stronghold from various points, military leaders said.
"We started early this morning our operations to break into Fallujah," Sabah al-Norman, a spokesman for Iraq's elite counterterrorism service, told the French New Agency.
As the fighting begins, there are growing concerns over the plight of civilians trapped inside the Islamic State held city.
"They (IS) have put bombs in the roads, they are using suicide bombers," said Muhamed, an Iraqi special forces soldier on the front line contacted by telephone, speaking on condition his full name not be used.
Fallujah, a Sunni stronghold, has been held by IS longer than any other city in Iraq and the fighters are believed to be deeply entrenched in the city.
"We are just waiting for the order to move in, and kill Daesh (Islamic State)," he said.
As the fighting and airstrikes around the city have intensified, the plight of civilians trapped inside has worsened. While some 800 people have managed to escape, thousands of others have not.