Iraqi security forces lose control of Fallujah

Baghdad, Jan 4: Iraqi security forces Saturday lost control of Fallujah, a city in Anbar province, to Al Qaeda militants and tribesmen, a security source said.

“Fallujah is under control of armed tribesmen and al-Qaeda militants, and there is no presence for the government security forces,” Xinhua quoted the source as saying.

The Fallujah city is situated about 50 km west of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

The clashes in Anbar province entered its sixth day after tensions flared up in the western province last Monday, when Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside its capital city of Ramadi.

Meanwhile, a witness said that fierce clashes erupted Friday night, when dozens of gunmen attacked an army base outside Fallujah, and seized part of it.

Unlike in Fallujah, tribesmen and government troops fought together against al-Qaeda militants in Ramadi, about 110 km west of Baghdad, and regained control of the city, the source added.

Tension was running high in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province since the Iraqi security forces Saturday captured Sunni Arab tribal leader and lawmaker Ahmad al-Alwani and killed his brother.

The Sunnis have been carrying out year-long protests, accusing the Shia-led government of marginalising them and its Shia-dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their people.

Alwani is one of the outspoken leaders in the anti-government protests. Some opponent lawmakers have been calling for lifting his immunity against arrest, but their demand was rejected by parliament.

IANS