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Residents return to Iraq's Fallujah amid tense calm

Residents of Fallujah, a militant-held city near Iraq's capital of Baghdad, have begun returning to their homes amid a tense calm.

A tense calm settled over the city on Saturday while sporadic fighting rattled in nearby areas of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, where police and tribesmen retook from militants on Friday.

The tribesmen and local police on Friday retook the Malaab and Fursan areas of Ramadi from al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

Militants seized all of Fallujah, just 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Baghdad, and parts of Ramadi last week, after violence broke out in Anbar on December 30, 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as "headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda."

The main route linking Baghdad to Fallujah was packed with vehicles, as residents of the city began making their way back after fleeing days earlier.

The Iraqi army is currently besieging the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in al-Anbar Province as negotiators are working on a deal to evade an intervention and peacefully resolve the standoff in the region.

The army has refused to stage massive military operations against the militants in the city due to concerns about the possibility of civilian casualties.

According to the UN, civilians lack access to essential supplies, such as food and fuel.

The United Nations Security Council has expressed support for the Iraqi government's fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants in the country.

The 15-nation body published a statement on Friday night, backing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the battle against the militants from ISIL in al-Anbar.

[Source: Press TV, Tehran, 14Jan14]

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