BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces have begun an assault on Falluja, a city that has been held by the Islamic State longer than any other in Iraq or Syria, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised speech on Monday.
“Today we will tear down the black flags of the strangers who have kidnapped this city,” Mr. Abadi, referring to the flags of the Islamic State that have been flying in Falluja for more than two years, said in a speech alongside military commanders just after midnight.
However, Iraqi forces did not begin entering the city on Monday, but continued to fire mortar and artillery rounds at it, as they have for months. Officials said pro-government forces had taken some small districts on the outskirts of Falluja, as well as a government building in Karma, a city to the northeast of Falluja that has long been contested by the government and the Islamic State.
Mr. Abadi and other Iraqi leaders have frequently made bold statements heralding new military offensives, only for the efforts to stall on the ground. But the new determination to assault Falluja signaled a shift in tactics for the Iraqi government.