Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) released the following statement in response to the announcement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that Fallujah has been liberated from ISIS control:

“I applaud Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi security forces for successfully liberating Fallujah from ISIS. The Iraqi security forces led this fight from day one, and it was not easy. Fallujah has been controlled by ISIS longer than any other major Iraqi city. Its people – many who were used by ISIS as human shields – have suffered greatly.

“But I am concerned by the lack of preparedness demonstrated by the Iraqi government and international relief organizations at the outset of the fight. Tens of thousands of people who sought refuge in the harsh desert lacked water, food and basic shelter.

“Moving forward, remaining pockets of ISIS resistance in and around Fallujah must be eliminated, land mines and IEDs must be cleared, and humanitarian relief distributed to civilians quickly. It is also critical that Shia militia forces be kept out. In the long term, the Iraqis need to have a sound plan to restore government services and help all of Fallujah’s citizens return home. And none of this will be sustainable unless an inclusive Iraqi government is developed.”