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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs