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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora