ISIS fighters who’d occupied the outskirts of Fallujah have melted away ahead of an Iraqi government offensive to retake the city, according to a villager who recently fled the area.

Farmer Alaa Abdulrahman told NBC News that the 40-odd ISIS militants “all disappeared suddenly” from Albu Jassem village in northern Fallujah province.

“They cannot go back to Fallujah proper because the city is surrounded by Iraqi forces from all directions,” the father-of-five added in a telephone interview.

“While we were walking out of our village, we were not sure that we would do it, because we know ISIS militants planted many IEDs in the roads,” he said. He and his family are now in a refugee camp some 20 miles south of Fallujah.

The operation to retake Fallujah, some 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, has been supported by U.S. airstrikes.

Read more at NBC
Image courtesy of