U.N. calls on local Iraqi communities to battle Al Qaeda in Anbar province
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (R) greets United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at Baghdad airport on January 13, 2014, upon the latter's arrival for a two-day visit to Iraq. (AFP)
The U.N. Security Council said it was calling on Iraqi tribes and local forces in restive Anbar province to take action against Al Qaeda fighters in the region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, is struggling to contain a resurgence of Al Qaeda in the western province. Forces loyal to a regional Al Qaeda group took control over parts of Fallujah and Ramadi, two key cities in the predominately Sunni province.
The Security Council issued a statement calling for a local effort to prevent Iraqi violence from escalating further.
"The Security Council urges the people of Iraq, including Iraqi tribes, local leaders, and Iraqi security forces in Anbar province, to continue, expand and strengthen their cooperation against violence and terror," Friday's statement read.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday from Baghdad he said he was encouraging Iraq's leaders to join forces to solve their problems.
"They should ensure that there is nobody left behind," he said. "There should be political cohesion, social cohesion and political dialogue, inclusive dialogue."
Before Al Qaeda's resurgence, Sunni protesters in Anbar said they were being marginalized by Maliki's administration.
U.S. forces battled insurgents twice in Fallujah before combat operations ended in 2011.
National elections in Iraq are scheduled for April. Maliki is seeking a third term as prime minister.