Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) announced an Islamic state in Fallujah and detained 75 members of the Iraqi Army on Friday, January 3, 2014. Clashes continue in Ramadi between tribal militias working with Iraqi Security Forces and AQI. However, AQI is increasing its presence in Fallujah while the Iraqi Army calls up reinforcements outside the city and begin a bombardment of suspected enemy positions. The contest for control of Fallujah will almost certainly be a violent struggle. These events have produced a humanitarian crisis in Fallujah with at least hundreds of families fleeing the city. Meanwhile, a political standoff has renewed between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives (COR), Osama al-Nujaifi.
AQI Patrols Fallujah; Tribal and Police Counterattack FailsOn January 3, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) announced its presence in Fallujah during the major Friday prayers in the city. Reportedly, an AQI commander addressed the crowd and announced that the group is in Fallujah to “to defend Sunnis from the government.” On the same day, individuals in a “stolen” police vehicle roamed the city and used speakers to convey the same message to the population. A local government official, Dhari al-Rishawi, confirmed AQI’s presence and stated that the group is in control of the city. As a response, the Iraqi Security Forces shelled eastern Fallujah with mortar rounds. Three people were killed as a result of the shelling and 28 others were injured. Meanwhile, tribal forces along with Iraqi Police reportedly entered Fallujah from the western side and regained control of some police stations previously seized by AQI. However, the counter-attack by police and government-allied tribal elements attack in Fallujah was not fully successful. Locally, a statement was disseminated through a mosque loudspeaker claiming that the Fallujah’s notables, tribes, and religious scholars supported the effort of the police to enforce security in Fallujah. The statement makes clear that Iraqi Army deployment to Fallujah is not acceptable and calls on the people of Fallujah not to depart the city. This statement is indicative of the response by some segments of the population to AQI’s presence in the city as well as to the Iraqi Army’s artillery bombardment.
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