Massive sandstorm engulfs city of Fallujah as Iraqi Army announce Anbar offensive - video

Scientists predict that in 10 years Iraq could experience up to 300 hundred a year

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The Independent Online

A massive sandstorm swept through Iraq’s Anbar province on Tuesday leaving the city of Fallujah in darkness.

The large body of sand clogged the city’s streets and caused dozens of the its residents  to be hospitalised with respiratory problems.

In amateur footage, the giant cloud of sand and dirt can be seen engulfing the city.

Sandstorms have increased in frequency in Iraq over the past few years and are expected to continue to grow in the coming years. According to Iraq’s Ministry of Environment, in the next ten years the country could witness as much as 300 hundred sandstorms per year.

The latest sandstorm came as the Iraqi military announced a major operation in Anbar province to try and drive out Isis forces from the area.

The offensive was launched on Tuesday and is aimed at liberating Iraq’s Anbar and Salaheddin provinces.

However, this has been slowed down by the sandstorms.

According to reports, Isis suicide bombers have in the past used sandstorms to provide them with cover so that they can carry out attacks on Iraqi forces. Speaking to Sky News earlier this week, one military chief said that a number of Isis suicide bombers had used the sandstorm to attack a strategically important water station in April.

The attack killed 17 Iraqi soldiers and the Iraqi Army was only recently able to claim the water station back.

The sandstorm in Iraq was said to be so powerful that the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh was also affected.