Dozens of Iraqi government forces and militia members have been killed in an attack on military barracks east of Fallujah by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Military sources said 50 members of the Iraqi security forces and allied Shia militias were killed on Saturday.

ISIL losses were reported too, with sources close to the group saying 12 of its fighters were killed by helicopter gunships.

On May 23, Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, announced the start of the offensive to “liberate Fallujah” from ISIL.

For almost two years, Fallujah, which is just 50km west of the capital Baghdad, has endured a siege imposed on the city after it became the first to fall to ISIL in January 2014.

Matthew Glanville, former adviser to the governor of Anbar province, believes the Iraqi forces were overly confident in their operation to recapture Fallujah.

“The lesson from the earlier offensive against Tikrit last year was that where ISIL had the opportunity to dig in, particularly amongst the civilian population, it was always going to take a very long time to get them out without civilian casualties,” Glanville told Al Jazeera.

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Image courtesy of al Jazeera