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In Iraqi , army had secured the first safe exit route for civilians to leave Islamic State's besieged stronghold Fallujah.

Joint Operation Command spokesman Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool said about 4,000 people had fled the city over the past 24 hours through the new exit route, known as al-Salam Junction.

The army also launched a fresh advance in the direction of the northern city of Mosul.

The assaults by the Iraqi army are taking place at the same time as advances against Islamic State by U.S.-backed   government forces in Syria.

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