Tribal leader asks government to stop bombing Falluja

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By Nourideen Hameed

Azzaman, January 30, 2014

The leader of Sunni Arab tribes fighting al-Qaeda in the Province of Anbar has urged the government not to send in troops into the strategic city of Falluja, large parts of which are still held by militants.

Ahmad Aburisha, who leads tens of thousands of armed tribesmen, said innocent civilians were the main victims of shelling by government troops and that everything possible should be done to spare innocent lives.

Aburisha is leader of the Quwat al-Sahwa or Awakening forces comprising tribesmen allied with the government against al-Qaeda.

“The artillery shelling by the army has cost the life of several innocent people and it must be stopped,” Aburisha warned.

He said the government should leave fighting inside Falluja to his tribesmen and vowed to regain control of the city “in a short period of time and without interference by the national army.”

Large numbers of Jihadists groups are active in the desert west of Baghdad. Early this month they stormed Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province as well as the town of Falluja.

The Jihadists belong to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Aburisha refused to be called the leader of Awakening Forces, which the U.S. created, armed and financed before withdrawing from Iraq.

He said his tribesmen were no longer part of any government-controlled force but they were fighting ISIS on their own initiative.

“We are fighting terrorist groups and backing national security due to our national duty and not in return for a reward,” Aburisha said.