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Iraq: Four armed groups fighting in Fallujah

The fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province is complex, with forces belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), local tribes, al-Qaeda and assorted armed groups.
Tribal fighters deploy themselves on the streets of Ramadi January 6, 2014. Iraq's prime minister urged people in the besieged city of Falluja on Monday to drive out al Qaeda-linked insurgents to pre-empt a military offensive that officials said could be launched within days. In a statement on state television, Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim whose government has little support in Sunni-dominated Falluja, called on tribal leaders to drive out militants who last week seized key towns in the desert leading t
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A little more than a week after the outbreak of violence in Anbar province, the picture of the forces fighting on the ground has become clearer. It does not, however, correspond to official Iraqi pronouncements that the conflict only involves two parties: al-Qaeda versus Iraqi security forces and their Sahwa tribal allies. At the same time, the picture also does not support declarations by Fallujah tribal leaders that the conflict is mainly one of the tribes versus government forces. Rather, Al-Monitor sources in Fallujah have confirmed the presence of at least four distinct fighting forces in and around that city.

The situation remains foggy, especially in Fallujah, where the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) emerged one day after gunmen claiming to belong to Anbar’s Sunni tribes mobilized against the Iraqi government’s decision to arrest Sunni parliamentarian Ahmed al-Alwani and break up the Ramadi sit-in by force, one year after the Sunni demonstrations had begun. The ISIS convoys of 4x4 vehicles —  armed with medium weapons and anti-aircraft guns and waving the al-Qaeda banner — were terrifying and supported the scenario being presented that the ISIS had seized control of Anbari cities, in particular Fallujah, and had declared an Islamic emirate.

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