Over 50,000 civilians are reportedly trapped inside ISIS-controlled Fallujah as Iraqi forces surround the town and prepare for an all-out assault on one of the militant’s last major strongholds in the country. Al Jazeera reported that conditions in the city, under ISIS control since 2014, have deteriorated as fighting between the militants and Iraqi forces has intensified in the past few days.

Some residents have been evacuated, but ISIS checkpoints on the main roads has made it nearly impossible for others to flee the city, Al Jazeera reported. The spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites called on Iraqi forces preparing to retake the city to safeguard civilians. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said that “saving innocent people from harm’s way is the most important thing, even more so than targeting the enemy.” READ MORE