World Bulletin / News Desk
A tribal source in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi insisted that tribesman, not al-Qaeda-allied groups, are fighting against the Iraqi army.
"Clashes continued through Monday night in Fallujah and its outskirts," the tribal leader told Anadolu Agency.
"Fighting is still raging in the western parts of Ramadi between the tribesmen and the army troops," he added.
On Monday, eight Iraqis were killed and 66 others wounded in clashes between armed tribesmen and government forces in Anbar province's two main cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.
Clashes erupted in the predominantly Sunni province last week after troops moved in to evict a months-old sit-in in the provincial capital Ramadi staged by 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.
Tribal chieftains oppose the presence of army troops and have vowed to fight off any military forces dispatched to the province.
In a Monday statement, al-Maliki called on Fallujah tribesmen and residents to "flush out the terrorists from their neighborhoods to avoid the dangers of armed confrontation."
But Majid al-Guraisi, chief of the Al-Guraisat tribe, told AA that most militants from the Qaeda-allied Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had withdrawn from Fallujah, leaving the Iraqi army and the tribesmen locked in a fierce, armed showdown.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq on Monday denounced the army's storming of cities as a "major mistake".
"Deploying the army into the cities to fight terrorism will harm its reputation," al-Mutlaq told a press conference.
White House accelerates military sales to Iraq
The White House announced it will boost military assistance to Baghdad following some of the bloodiest confrontations between the central government and insurgent groups since US troops pulled out in 2011.
“We're accelerating our Foreign Military Sales deliveries and are looking to provide an additional shipment of Hellfire missiles as early as this spring,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
He added, “These missiles are one small element of that holistic strategy, but they have been proven effective at denying [ISIS] the safe-haven zones that it has sought to establish in western Iraq.”
In addition to Hellfire missiles, the US will send 10 ScanEagle surveillance UAVs and 48 Raven surveillance UAVs later this year, according to Carney.
He also announced that the US has sent “Aerostat surveillance balloons to the government of Iraq in September of last year and delivered three additional Bell IA 407 helicopters in December, just last month, bringing the total purchase bought and delivered to Iraq to 30.”
Carney refuted congressional claims that the US pullout from Iraq fueled the rise of insurgent violence in the state.
“I've heard members of Congress suggest this, but if members were suggesting that there should be American troops fighting and dying in Fallujah today, they should say so. The president doesn't believe that,” said Carney.Last Mod: 07 Ocak 2014, 10:12