Police, tribes retake territory as UN backs Iraq
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 11, 2014, 15:22
  
Ramadi: Gunmen held crucial territory on Baghdad's doorstep on Saturday despite tribesmen and police retaking militant-held areas west of the capital, as the UN Security Council backed Iraq's efforts against al-Qaida-linked extremists.

The United Nations and NGOs have said civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel because of the crisis, while Washington has piled pressure on Baghdad to focus on political reconciliation, in addition to ongoing military operations.

Gunmen seized all of Fallujah, just 60 kilometres from Baghdad, and parts of Ramadi last week, the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

Both cities lie in Anbar province, a sprawling desert region in west Iraq bordering Syria where US and Iraqi officials have warned for months that jihadists have been able to establish training camps and rear bases.

Yesterday, tribesmen and local police retook the Malaab and Fursan areas of Ramadi from Al-Qaeda-linked militants, tribal military commander Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha told.

"We fought ISIL alongside our sons from the local police forces and returned them to their stations," Abu Risha said, referring to the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group.

"They only control 10 per cent of Ramadi territory," he said of ISIL.

ISIL has been active in the Anbar fighting, but so have anti-government tribes.

At the same time, security forces have recruited their own tribal allies in the fighting that has raged in Anbar for more than 10 days.

An AFP journalist in Ramadi also saw tribesmen and police apparently in control of the two areas.

Two civilians were killed and four others were wounded in violence in the city, according to a doctor, while eight militants also suffered injuries.

In Fallujah, which remained in the control of gunmen, a prayer leader called for provincial sheikhs to intervene to resolve the crisis in the city, but warned the government "should not use the army for internal fighting in the cities".

Sheikh Abdulhamid Jadua also urged people during yesterday prayers not to "make Fallujah a place that attracts killing and blood".

AFP

First Published: Saturday, January 11, 2014, 15:22


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