Iraqi security forces, backed by air support, are continuing their wide-scale military operations against al-Qaeda strongholds in the desert areas of Anbar province extending to the Syrian and Jordanian borders.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Jan. 6 called on the residents and tribes of Fallujah, which had fallen under al-Qaeda’s control, to expel the “terrorists” from their city to avoid “armed confrontations” in the streets. Meanwhile, the clans and dignitaries in Anbar are insisting on the withdrawal of the Iraqi army from the province’s cities and reliance instead on tribal militants and local police to rid them of al-Qaeda.
An Anbari official told Al-Monitor, “The [Anbar Provincial] Council held an emergency meeting on Monday [Jan. 6] to demand that Maliki investigate, [in coordination] with Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi and Anbar Police Chief Hadi Rseg, the security chaos gripping the province.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added, “The council also demanded that Maliki withdraw military forces from Anbar immediately in order to avoid the bloodshed of innocent people.”
Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.”
Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.”