Iraqi PM calls for Fallujah residents, tribes to help fight against "terrorists"
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for residents and tribes to expel "terrorists" holding Fallujah to prevent fighting in the city, Iraqiya state TV reported on Monday.
Maliki called on "the people of Fallujah and its tribes to expel the terrorists" so "their areas are not subjected to the dangers of armed clashes," it said.
Government officials in western Anbar province have met tribal leaders to urge them to step up their efforts to repel al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have taken over parts of Ramadi and Fallujah in Anbar, strategic Iraqi cities on the Euphrates River.
Iraqi government forces launched an air strike on a city in Anbar on Sunday, killing 25 Islamist militants in an attempt to quell an al-Qaeda offensive in the Sunni province, Reuters reported local officials as saying.
ISIL has been steadily tightening its grip in the vast Anbar province in recent months in a bid to create a Sunni Muslim state straddling the frontier with Syria.
The airstrikes came after a senior Iraqi official said that the country’s security forces are preparing for a “major attack” to retake Fallujah from the al-Qaeda-linked militants.
“Iraqi forces are preparing for a major attack in Fallujah,” the official told Agence France-Presse.
On Sunday, Anbar’s Provincial Council confirmed that ISIL has claimed Fallujah.
“ISIL is now controlling Fallujah completely. There is no security apparatus or police,” Hamid al-Hashim, a member of Anbar’s provincial council, told Al Arabiya News Channel Sunday.
ISIL fighters, who have previously attacked police stations in the Sunni province, are “using police vehicles in Fallujah,” he warned.