Iraq PM to send reinforcements to restive Anbar: TV

Iraq PM to send reinforcements to restive Anbar: TV
Wed Jan 1, 2014 22:46:35

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has reversed a decision to withdraw troops from tense cities in Anbar province, and will instead deploy reinforcements, state television reports.

"We will not withdraw the army" and "we will send additional forces," it quoted Maliki as saying on Wednesday in response to requests from residents and the government of the province west of Baghdad.

Maliki had announced on Tuesday that soldiers would withdraw from Anbar cities and hand over control to local police, in an apparent bid to calm tensions after security forces tore down a sprawling anti-government protest camp in the province.

Clashes between security forces and militants broke out as the camp near the provincial capital of Ramadi was closed on Monday.

More than a dozen people have died in the fighting, which continued for a third day on Wednesday.

Protests broke out in Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq late on 2012 after the arrest of guards of then-finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, an influential Sunni Arab, on terrorism charges.

The arrests were seen by Sunnis as yet another example of the government targeting one of their leaders.

While the government has made some concessions aimed at placating Sunnis, including freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of anti-Qaeda militiamen, underlying issues remain unaddressed.

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