Sunni tribesmen vow to crush al-Qaeda militants

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By Noorideen Hameed

Azzaman, January 7, 2014

Sunni tribesmen in the restive province of Anbar are rising against al-Qaeda and its operatives who are reported to have infiltrated their areas in large numbers.

“The tribes are readying themselves for a decisive battle against al-Qaeda and ISIS,” declared Sabah Karhout, Anbar’s provincial council chairman.

ISIS is the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and is active in both Syria and Iraq.

“The tribes have struck a deal with the security forces to provide their men with air cover and support from local police and the army in preparation for the battle that should be completed in two days,” said Karhout.

Karhout was referring to the strategic city of Falluja which is currently under ISIS control. He did not say when the Sunni tribesmen would launch their attack to retake the city.

He said ISIS had about 400 armed men in the center of Falluja and thousands of tribesmen were waiting for the green light to dislodge them from the city.

ISIS had initially attacked Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital, and succeeded in driving government police and security force from many neighborhoods in the city.

But Karhout said ISIS was losing ground in Ramadi and life was returning to normal.

However, he said, at least 400 people have been killed in Ramadi since ISIS launched its attack three days ago, 300 of them belonged to ISIS.

Conditions in Falluja, a town of nearly half a million people, are appalling, Karhout said.

“The situation in Falluja is tragic. There is no drinking water. There is no electricity.  At the same time it is almost impossible to deliver aid and assistance to the inhabitants because the militants are in control,” he said.