January 7

Iraqi army clashes with militants near Fallujah

The clashes began just hours after deadly bomb attacks killed at least four people elsewhere in the country.

By Qassim Abdul-zahra
The Associated Press

BAGHDAD – Fierce clashes erupted Tuesday between Iraqi special forces and al-Qaida-linked militants outside the city of Fallujah, a flare-up in a days-long standoff in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar, Iraqi officials said.

click image to enlarge

Civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday. Police said a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden truck into a police station, killing and wounding scores of people in the northern city, home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, each of the ethnic groups has competing claims to the oil-rich area.

The Associated Press

The fighting broke out about 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Fallujah, following the capture of an army officer and four soldiers in the area a day earlier, Anbar provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate word on casualties. The clashes began just hours after deadly bomb attacks killed at least four people elsewhere in the country.

Iraqi security forces and allies from Sunni tribes have been battling militants to recapture two key cities in Iraq’s western Anbar province, Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital. Fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, control the center of Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, and part of the nearby Ramadi.

The al-Qaida fighters’ seizure of the two cities – once bloody battlegrounds for U.S. troops – poses the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government since the departure of American forces in late 2011.

The immediate trigger for the unrest was the Dec. 28 arrest of a Sunni lawmaker sought on terrorism charges, followed by the government’s dismantling of a months-old anti-government Sunni protest camp in Ramadi.

Sectarian tensions in Iraq have been rising for much longer. Violence spiked after the government staged a deadly crackdown on a Sunni protest camp last April. Militants have also targeted civilians, particularly in Shiite areas of Baghdad, with waves of coordinated car bombings and other deadly attacks.

The attacks continued Tuesday when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden truck into a police station in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two people there and wounding 55, some critically, according to Maj. Raid Emad Rasheed.

A roadside bomb struck an army patrol southeast of Baghdad, in the Madain area, killing one soldier and wounding another, a police official said. Another bomb hit a patrol of pro-government, Sunni militiamen in Baghdad’s southeastern suburb of Jisr Diyala, killing one fighter and wounding four, he added.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to talk to the media.

The death toll in 2013 was the highest in Iraq since the worst of the sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year.

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed reporting.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)