The Siege of Fallujah (2016) was an offensive that the Iraqi government launched against ISIL in Al-Karmah and in the city of Fallujah, with the aim of enforcing a siege of Fallujah. During the operation, local Sunni residents revolted against ISIL for a period of 3 days, in February 2016. On 22 May, after completing preparations around the city, the Iraqi Army and supporting Shi’ite militias launched the Third Battle of Fallujah.
On 4 January 2014, ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq, captured the city of Fallujah, after Iraqi government forces withdrew from the city, following a 5-day battle. This victory allowed ISIL to capture its first city on Iraqi soil, and it also allowed them to establish a stronghold only 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. From April to May 2015, the Iraqi Army launched an offensive in and around the town of Al-Karmah. During the offensive, the Iraqi Army made some limited gains in the Al-Karmah, by capturing some territory in the town and building a base for a future assault to fully recapture both Fallujah and Al-Karmah.
On 2 February, the Iraqi Army fully severed the last supply lines between the Khalidiya Island region and the city of Fallujah, completely besieging the city. This led to concerns that an estimated 30,000–60,000 civilians trapped in Fallujah would starve, due to the lack of airdropped supplies into the city. On 10 February, it was reported that the Iraqi Army had fully recaptured the Khalidiya District, including the Khalidiya Island area.
On 25 February, the Iraqi Governor of Anbar stated that the battle for Fallujah would begin soon, and that it would be much shorter than the battle for Ramadi. On the same day, the Iraqi Army tightened their siege on Fallujah, pushing into the outskirts of Fallujah, and securing all of the bridges leading into the city. On the same day, the Iraqi Army cleared the Albu Daeig district in southern Fallujah, killing 19 ISIL militants. It was also reported that ISIL was using food as a weapon in Fallujah, denying food supplies to the people it suspected of having links to the rebel tribesmen or being non-ISIL sympathizers.
Starvation and negotiations
As the siege tightened, tens of thousands of Iraqis, trapped in the Fallujah, were left without regular access to food and medicine, as shortages intensified in recent weeks. As the Iraqi Army tightened its grip on the city, local reports indicated that ISIL grew bloodier and more desperate. Some residents reported that they had no fuel to heat themselves during the cold winter. Still, some supplies were available in some stores, but only for ISIL fighters or sympathizers, according to local reports. Iraqi officials said that negotiations led by the International Red Cross have been going on in an attempt to get ISIL to allow some aid teams to enter into the city and provide basic assistance. However, these negotiations have not been successful yet. Hekmat Sulaiman, the spokesperson for Anbar’s Governor, said that the Iraqi Army had tried to deliver food to the civilians, but that ISIL had blocked the efforts. A senior federal security official confirmed the negotiations, but declined to specify whether the talks were happening with ISIL leaders inside the city, or elsewhere. In the same day, ISIL pushed in the city center, after the Iraqi forces begin to advance towards the Hit surrounding areas.