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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora