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Al-Qaida group seizes control of Fallujah in Iraq

By Qassim Abdul-Zahra

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:02 p.m. HST, Jan 04, 2014

BAGHDAD » The city center of Iraq's Fallujah has fallen completely into the hands of fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, police said today.

Hadi Razeij, head of the Anbar province police force, said police had left the city center entirely and had positioned themselves on the edge of town.

"The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL," he said, speaking on Arabic language satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya.

Fallujah, along with nearby provincial capital Ramadi, was a stronghold of Sunni insurgents during the U.S.-led war. Al-Qaida militants largely took both cities over last week and have been fending off incursions by government forces there since.

The U.S. State Department expressed its concern in a statement, saying it would continue to work with Iraqi authorities and tribes allied against ISIL "to defeat our common enemy."

"We are also in contact with tribal leaders from Anbar province who are showing great courage as they fight to eject these terrorist groups from their cities," Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.

Government troops, backed by Sunni tribesmen who oppose al-Qaida, have encircled Fallujah for several days, and have entered parts of Ramadi. On Friday, troops bombarded militant positions outside Fallujah with artillery, a military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information.

Anbar province, a vast desert area on the borders with Syria and Jordan with an almost entirely Sunni population was the heartland of the Sunni insurgency that rose up against American troops and the Iraqi government after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. The insurgency was fueled by anger over the dislodgment of their community from power during Saddam's rule and the rise of Shiites. It was then that al-Qaida established its branch in the country.

Fallujah became notorious among Americans when insurgents in 2004 killed four American security contractors and hung their burned bodies from a bridge. It, Ramadi and other cities remained battlegrounds for the following years, as sectarian bloodshed mounted, with Shiite militias killing Sunnis.

In a speech in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said government forces would press on to clear the province of militants.

"There will be no retreat until we eliminate this gang and rid the people of Anbar of their evil acts," he said. "The people of Anbar asked the government for help, they called us to come to rescue them from terrorists."

Deb Riechmann contributed from Washington.

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eoe wrote:
Mission accomplished.
on January 4,2014 | 10:04AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Indeed. By failing to protect US interest in Iraq, Mr. Obama has indirectly encouraged a resurgence of Al Qaeda there. Instead, he failed to strongly support the negotiations with the Maliki government, distancing the US from the conflict in a way that has turned a degree of success into a degree of failure.

As sometimes happens when wishful thinking meets reality, he is now forced to consider ramping up military support for the Sunnis in Anbar province, the reality being that whether or not you hated the BushHitler or our involvement in Iraq, the US has vital interest at stake in the Middle East.

on January 5,2014 | 07:37AM
frontman wrote:
All with the help of obama who pulled all US help out. obama has made it where all who died in Iraq, died for nothing. He is a true muslim.
on January 5,2014 | 08:01AM
Donna2415 wrote:
All those lives, years and money spent on Iraq were all for nothing. Iraq is more unstable as ever. Hey, George - Mission NOT accomplished.
on January 4,2014 | 10:12AM
hanalei395 wrote:
And over 4500 U.S. troops ... DEAD .....for nothing.
on January 4,2014 | 03:15PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Thanks to Barry and all the liberal doves who think pulling out was a good idea.
on January 4,2014 | 04:01PM
eoe wrote:
Mmm... yes, that is why. We would have won in vietnam too.
on January 4,2014 | 04:30PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Why don't you take a little time to actually think about the differences between Vietnam and the Middle East. I won't do it for you, but the differences are stark in terms of US vital national interests.
on January 5,2014 | 07:39AM
sailfish1 wrote:
That's because the U.S. people all demanded it.
on January 4,2014 | 05:43PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Hapa Boy wanted MORE U.S. troops to be dead ... for nothing.
on January 4,2014 | 05:54PM
Kuokoa wrote:
This will go on forever! Let them kill themselves.
on January 4,2014 | 10:28AM
hanalei395 wrote:
After Bush started his unnecessary, useless Iraq war, the U.S. began murdering a people, the Iraqi people, who did NOTHING to the U.S.
on January 4,2014 | 02:37PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I agree, they both hate the US anyway.
on January 4,2014 | 10:34PM
iwanaknow wrote:
It will get worse before it gets better.
on January 4,2014 | 03:01PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Under Saddam, Iraq was a secular country. His Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, was a Catholic. (IS a Catholic, if he wasn't executed). Saddam had Christians and women in his government. But after the Bush invasion, and while Saddam and the Sunnis were on the run, Shiite Islamic terrorists began bombing Iraqi Christian churches. The Shiites thought that Bush was on their side. And now, "thanks" to Bush, once a secular nation, Iraq is now an Islamic country, complete with the Sharia law in its new constitution.
on January 4,2014 | 03:36PM
Dawg wrote:
Is anyone really surprised. Money starts and settles wars. Either the dictator or the military complex wins or in some cases both. God bless the innocent victims in Iraq.
on January 4,2014 | 05:40PM
Anonymous wrote:
With thanks to the US Marines and soldiers who lost their lives or were wounded taking Fallujah, whatever happens you are in our hearts.
on January 4,2014 | 08:12PM
hanalei395 wrote:
As it turned out, al-Qaeda, ... which at the time, were not yet in Iraq (Saddam and al-Qaeda were enemies), ... was an ally with the U.S. Marines, fighting their common enemiy, Iraqi Sunnis.
on January 4,2014 | 08:45PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Let them fight their own war!
on January 4,2014 | 10:33PM
SteveToo wrote:
The only answer to peace in the Middle East is to Nuke it from the Atlantic to the Indian border. OOPS Sorry Israel but U gotta go to, to save the rest of the world.
on January 4,2014 | 10:49PM
DanLBoom wrote:
After losing a lot of Military lives in the Iraq war .I would tread lightly by claiming that the Iraq war was all for "Nothing". I have a lot more respect for our military personel and the sacrafice they gave . Same old antics /still blaming GW . Blah , Blah , Blah. (Come on guys !!! Something more Original!!!) Whether we.... Should be looking the other way.Maybe ... the pull-out in 2011 was a bit too premature.So ordered by,Our commander in chief at the time (Obama)."We will pull-out all of our forces in Iraq and bring our boys home" .... sound familiar. Even agaisnt the advice of our military commanders and a few politicians too,knew this would happen.Did he listen.....no. So come on guys ,for crying out loud...Ease-up on GW and lets give our military guys the respect they deserve and a BREAK too ... Please??IMUA
on January 5,2014 | 08:20AM
hanalei395 wrote:
GW started an unnecessary, useless ill-fated war, sending U.S. invaders to Iraq, murdering over 100,000 Iraqis, wounding over a million. A people who did NOTHING to the U.S. ... Iraq was once a secular nation. Saddam's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, was a Catholic, and Saddam had Christians and women in his government. Iraq is now an Islamic country, complete with the Sharia law in its new constitution. If al-Qaeda takes over Iraq, it would be an inadvertently Mission Accomplished (for al-Qaeda) by Bush.
on January 5,2014 | 09:45AM
krusha wrote:
Probably easier now for them to kill off the insurgents instead of trying to root them out one by one.
on January 5,2014 | 08:21AM
Watergate_Mike wrote:
This is a devastating blow to those Americans who died fighting in Iraq. USA must re-negotiate with our allies to stop this take-over of Iraq by an Al Qaeda emboldened by victories in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and other parts of Africa. No American wants to continue fighting as we have. This must become a world effort by nations who favor self-rule by democracy and not by force. There are still nations behind this, and Al Qaeda are just pawns who will be removed once the battles are won--or they will be invited in to rule for a time and then systematically eliminated. As to our service people who gave their lives in Iraq, this has proved a fruitless pursuit, sad to say. No wonder our veterans are so damaged within.
on January 5,2014 | 08:47AM
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