Iraqi PM urges tough line on al-Qaeda insurgents

Iraqi PM urges tough line on al-Qaeda insurgents
Wed Jan 22, 2014 17:15:47

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for residents of the conflict-hit province of Anbar to "take a stand" against the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, as the United Nations warned of deteriorating displacement problem in the nation’s largest province.

"I ask the people of the province -- the tribes, the notables, and all who live there -- to be ready to take a stand, to take serious action against those dirty people, without making any sacrifices," Maliki said on Wednesday during his weekly televised address.

He further added, referring to Fallujah, a city in Anbar that is almost entirely in control of anti-government insurgents, "It is time to finish this subject, and end the presence of gangs in this city, and save the people from their evil."

Parts of Ramadi and near all of Fallujah, both former insurgent strongholds in the huge province west of Baghdad, have been in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked militants since late December, the first time anti-government militants have exercised such open control of Iraqi cities since the peak of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led military invasion of the country.

The development comes as Iraqi government forces continued to press against the armed insurgents that overran parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi more than three weeks ago, while violence elsewhere in Iraq killed eight people.

While some diplomats have reportedly urged Baghdad to foster political reconciliation to undercut support for the insurgents, Maliki and others in the Iraqi political scene have taken a hard line and focused on wide-ranging security operations against what some Iraqi politicians have described as foreign-sponsored terrorist gangs.

Meanwhile, soldiers, policemen and SWAT forces have combined with pro-government tribal allies in an offensive that continued Wednesday against gunmen holding several neighborhoods of Ramadi.

Iraq’s Federal Intelligence and Investigations Directorate in Karbala has arrested a large number of terrorists in several operations it has carried out recently.

The violence in Anbar broke out on December 30, 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as “headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda.”

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