News / Middle East

Al-Qaida Raises Flag, Claims Control Over Iraqi City of Fallujah

An empty street shows burned vehicles and damaged buildings in Fallujah, 65 kilometers west of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 3, 2014.
An empty street shows burned vehicles and damaged buildings in Fallujah, 65 kilometers west of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 3, 2014.
VOA News
Black-clad al-Qaida militants in Iraq appeared to seize control of the embattled western city of Fallujah on Friday, raising their flag over government buildings and declaring an independent Islamic state.

Witnesses said the Sunni militants, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, cut power lines in the city late in the day and ordered residents not to use backup generators.   

But the chief of Fallujah police, Mohamed al-Isawi, disputed the ISIS claims of control, telling The New York Times newspaper that he was repositioning his forces north of the city for a decisive battle. He said his personnel had been strengthened by an alliance of tribal leaders, and that part of a main street had been recaptured by late in the day.

A local journalist who asked for anonymity out of fear of retribution told The Washington Post that police and other government-aligned forces had abandoned the city and that al-Qaida had burned all Iraqi national flags.

Fighting across the vast open spaces of western Iraq has become a severe test of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to hold the country together and prevent full-scale civil war.

Meanwhile, in the al-Anbar provincial capital, Ramadi, a tribal leader who fought alongside U.S. troops in 2007 told The Washington Post his fighters had joined police in ejecting al-Qaida loyalists. He said the regional ISIS leader, Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi, was among those killed in the fighting.

The explosion of violence in western Iraq is pitting al-Qaida-linked Sunni extremists, who now control large swaths of the region west of Baghdad, against forces of the Shi'ite-dominated central government. Government forces in the west are backed by local tribesmen who have chosen to align themselves with Baghdad rather than with ISIS fighters.

Al-Anbar province was the center of the Sunni insurgency during the eight-year presence of U.S. military forces, which withdrew from the country in December 2011. More than 1,300 U.S. military personnel were killed in the region.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 04, 2014 6:37 AM
What is the difference between the rule by al qaida and that of an islamic republican government? All of them want extreme islamic law or sharia. From Riyadh to Tehran, from Libya to Turkey, from Morocco to Sudan, Kenya to Ethiopia, to the Gulf States and Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan - it is the same thing all over - restriction to human rights and liberties, strict adherence to islamic and barbaric jungle justice system last seen on this planet in the Stone, Dark and Middle Ages. Mr. Barack Obama was being extra gratuitous with his contribution to islamism when he pulled out the US army from Iraq, whether he knew this was going to be the fall out of it or not is another story for another day. But whether or not the conflicting news from Falujah - I can still remember how the American army wrestled the territory from islamist fighters during the campaign - is true, the world and USA in particular will hold Barack Obama accountable for that inauspicious decision to pull out US forces from Iraq when its security apparatus had not stabilized, thereby leaving it in the lurch. That hurry to return the country to al qaida just means one thing; somebody somewhere may have been insidiously sympathetic to the cause of al qaida in Iraq. The whole gain of the campaign have been wished away by the caprice of one man, and the lives lost in this campaign have been a colossal mistake, no thanks to Mr. Obama.

by: king cobra from: louisville,ky
January 03, 2014 9:53 PM

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