[QODLink]
Middle East

Fighters clash with Iraqi forces in Anbar

Gun battle erupts in village located between Fallujah and Ramadi, two cities besieged by troops and Sunni Arab tribes.

Last updated: 12 Jan 2014 16:28
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Fierce clashes have erupted between Iraqi special forces and al-Qaeda-linked fighters in a village in the western Anbar province, officials say.

The village, al-Bubali, lies between Fallujah and Ramadi, two cities in Anbar that are under siege by Iraqi security forces and their allies from Sunni Arab tribes.

Several army vehicles were damaged by roadside bombs planted around al-Bubali by the fighters, a police officer told the AP news agency on Friday.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

The military and the allied tribesmen are trying to recapture parts of Fallujah and Ramadi after they came under the control of fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week.

The fighters seized police stations and military posts, freeing prisoners and setting up their own checkpoints.

Dhari al-Rishawi, Anbar's provincial spokesman, said fighting was also under way on Friday along the southern edges of Ramadi, the provincial capital.

Thousands flee

Iraqi troops have clashed with the al-Qaeda fighters mainly on the outskirts of Fallujah and Ramadi and have carried out occasional air attacks on the fighters' positions.

But they have held off on launching a major offensive to retake the two cities, fearing that possible civilian casualties could inflame Sunni Arab anger and push tribal leaders to side with those battling government troops.

However, Mohammed al-Askari, Defence Ministry spokesman, told AP on Friday that the government's patience would not last forever.

Thousands of people fled the fighting in Fallujah, where the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating.

The UN and humanitarian organisations have said that people who were trapped in the city lack access to food or fuel.

Sectarian tensions have been rising for months in Anbar as Sunni Arabs held protests against what they perceive as discrimination and random arrests by the country's Shia-led central government.

Violence escalated after the December 28 arrest of a Sunni politician sought on terrorism charges and the government's dismantling of a year-old Sunni protest camp in Ramadi.

331

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.