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Iraqi Forces Battling Al Qaida Militants in Fallujah, Ramadi

Gunmen patrol during clashes with Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 5, 2014.
Iraqi forces are fighting to dislodge al-Qaida-linked militants who have taken over parts of Ramadi and Fallujah.

Tribesmen in Ramadi have joined forces with the military to counter the insurgents.

In Fallujah it's a different story - disgruntled tribesmen have sided with the insurgents to fight against the government. The militants want to create a Sunni Muslim state straddling the border with Syria.

The capture last week of positions in both cities marked the first time in years the militants have managed to take ground and hold it for several days.

Baghdad says al-Qaida fighters from Syria are crossing into Iraq and are helping to push violence there to its worst levels in five years.

The relationship between the fighters in Iraq and Syria is unclear although they say they all come from the same group.