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Al-Qaida militants leave Iraq's Fallujah: local councilman

Al-Qaida-linked militants have left Fallujah in Iraq's western Anbar province and the city is fully in the hands of Sunni tribesmen now, a local councilman said on Monday.

All militants of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as al-Qaida in Iraq, have departed Fallujah and "all the gunmen who are now in the city are the sons of the tribes and have no relations with al-Qaida," a member of the local council told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

But analysts said the claim cannot be independently verified as the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, has been out of the control of the government troops for the past days.

Iraq's NINA news agency quoted Sabah Karhot, chairman of the provincial council, as saying: "a meeting was held on Monday with military leaders in Anbar generally and Fallujah especially, which decided to develop a roadmap to end the crisis of Fallujah."

According to an initial agreement, local police and tribesmen will handle Fallujah's security and fight militants, while there is no need for the security forces of the central government to enter the city, the report said.

Earlier in the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on the residents and the tribes in Fallujah to "expel terrorists from the city" so that the areas are not subjected to armed confrontations, the state-run a-Iraqiya TV reported.

Maliki, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraq's armed forces, ordered the army outside Fallujah not to strike residential neighborhoods in the city, the channel said.

The Iraqi security forces on Saturday lost control of Fallujah to some armed tribesmen and al-Qaida fighters after days of fierce clashes, which broke out as a result of the dismantling of an anti- government protest site near Ramadi, Anbar's provincial capital city, on Dec. 30.

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 06Jan14]

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