World Bullen / News Desk
Eight Iraqis were killed and 66 others wounded Monday in violent clashes between armed tribesmen and government forces in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, medical and tribal sources said, citing initial counts of casualties from the clashes.
Majid al-Guraisi, chief of the Al-Guraisat tribe, told Anadolu Agency that clashes continued to rage in the city of Fallujah between armed tribesmen and army troops.
He said most fighters from the Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had withdrawn from Fallujah, leaving the Iraqi army and the tribesmen locked in a fierce, armed showdown.
Clashes erupted in the western Anbar province last week after government troops moved in to evict a months-old sit-in in the provincial capital Ramadi staged by Sunni tribesmen opposed to the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The sit-in dispersal came two days after Sunni lawmaker Ahmed al-Alwani, a prominent anti-Maliki protest organizer, was arrested in a raid on his Ramadi home by Iraqi forces. Six people were killed in the raid, including al-Alwani's brother.
Local tribesmen later expressed their support for local police against Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen who claimed that they had established control over the province's two main cities – Ramadi and Fallujah.
Tribal chieftains, however, rejected the presence of army troops and vowed to fight off any military forces dispatched to the province by Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a medical source at Fallujah Hospital said that it received the bodies of three slain tribesmen earlier Monday.
The fighting had forced thousands of Fallujah residents to escape the city amid fears of an eminent escalation of violence, an Anadolu Agency reporter said.
He added that the city has started to reel under food and fuel shortages.
Violent clashes also erupted in Ramadi on Monday between armed tribesmen and government forces when an army unity started to get out of the city, a tribal source from Ramadi said.
He said fighting is still ongoing in northern and southern Ramadi.
The source accused the government of making up the presence of ISIL militants in the city only to justify its shelling. "There are no militants from the Islamic State Iraq and the Levant in Ramadi," he said.
Al-Maliki on Monday ordered the army not to shell residential areas in Fallujah, where security forces are battling al-Qaeda-linked groups.
In a statement, al-Maliki called on Fallujah tribesmen and residents to "flush out the terrorists from their neighborhoods to avoid the dangers of armed confrontation."Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2014, 15:32