News / Middle East

Reports: Fallujah in Hands of Pro-al-Qaida Militants

Mourners, Sunni gunmen chant slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government during funeral of a man killed in clashes between al-Qaida gunmen, Iraqi troops, Fallujah, Jan. 4, 2014.
Mourners, Sunni gunmen chant slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government during funeral of a man killed in clashes between al-Qaida gunmen, Iraqi troops, Fallujah, Jan. 4, 2014.
Edward Yeranian
Rebels and Iraqi police in the volatile Anbar province say the Iraqi government has lost control of the city of Fallujah to al-Qaida militants after days of fighting.
 
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is active in both countries, pushed police out of the city center after shelling in the city had been reported from Friday night into Saturday.
 
Arab media is reporting civilian casualties from the shelling and from fighting raging in areas surrounding the city.
 
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the country's forces will not retreat from predominantly Sunni Anbar province until they "eliminate" al-Qaida militants there.
 
"The people of Anbar province are now standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi armed forces," he said. "This is the true stance of Iraqis. [The people of Anbar province] are once again carrying weapons to chase al-Qaida members. This is the real attitude of Iraqis."
 
Maliki warned that Arab states — he did not specify which — abetting Islamic extremists would be engulfed by the "raging fire of terrorism" themselves, and urged all Iraqis to support the government and armed forces.
 
The mostly-Sunni residents of Anbar have been locked in a struggle with the prime minister, whose forces overran a protest camp inside Ramadi last week, and also stormed a sit-in camp in the Anbar town of Hawija last April.
 
On Friday, al-Qaida militants raised their flag over government buildings in Fallujah, about 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, and declared an independent Islamic state.
 
Witnesses said the militants cut power lines in the city late Friday and ordered residents not to use backup generators.
 
Arab satellite channels reported that pro-al-Qaida militants also fought government troops near the infamous Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, in an attempt to liberate Islamic militants being held inside the facility. Iraqi combat helicopters reportedly bombed militant positions to drive them back. 
 
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 Fallujah and that al-Qaida had burned all Iraqi national flags.
 
A tribal leader in Ramadi who fought alongside U.S. troops in 2007 also told The Post his fighters had joined police in ejecting al-Qaida loyalists.
 
Growing humanitarian concern
 
Iraq's Sunni Parliament Speaker Ousama Nujeify has called on the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Organization (IFRC) to deliver humanitarian aid to residents of Fallujah.
 
The humanitarian situation inside Fallujah has been described as "extremely bad" by a number of eyewitnesses.
 
One Fallujah resident who withheld his name told an Iraqi TV station that he and his family have trouble coping with the deteriorating conditions inside the city, especially since Islamic militants blew up several power stations, blacking out the city.
 
"Food is running short inside the city and conditions are becoming critical," he said.
 
A young man with a small child also complained that vital necessities such as tahini, gas, gasoline and bread are running short, and that children are frightened because by the shelling.
 
Test for Maliki
 
Fighting across the vast open spaces of western Iraq has become a severe test of the prime minister's ability to hold the country together and prevent full-scale civil war.
 
The region's explosion of violence 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 al-Qaida-linked fighters, and U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf noted the United States was working to support "in every possible way" several tribes that have revolted against ISIS.
 
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.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jons from: Kampala
January 05, 2014 3:39 AM
Iraqi army is too weak to that extent!

by: N zedder from: New Zealand
January 05, 2014 3:24 AM
They were better off with their murderous Dictator.

by: Marla Sympson from: UK
January 04, 2014 9:18 PM
Al Jazeera and the BBC are one and the same... you ought to have known it by now...

by: Yedid from: Nigeria
January 04, 2014 8:45 PM
It surprises me that this news haven't been aired on most arab stations like Aljazeera. How biased this canbe.
In Response

by: Edward Yeranian from: Cairo
January 05, 2014 6:46 AM
Arabiya TV, Sky News Arabiya, and the BBC Arabic service aired the story. Reuters showed video of the the fighting. Iraqi sat channels Al Baghdadiya and Ash Sharqiya also aired the story. Perhaps you were not paying attention.

by: abdulazeez from: taraba
January 04, 2014 5:53 PM
allah yabamu zaman lafiya a duniya

by: Victor Purinton from: Cambridge,MA
January 04, 2014 2:54 PM
The war is global, and the war is not going to be over any time soon.
In Response

by: JR from: S.F.
January 04, 2014 4:51 PM
And another Bush mess hangover. Will we ever be free from his monumental disasters?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More