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Tribes and air force battle militants in Anbar

Tribal forces in the western Iraqi province of Anbar are continuing their fight against militants from the al-Qaeda offshoot, the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant".

The militants, who have come to dominate much of the insurgency in neighboring Syria, seized control of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi last week. But the tribal fighters have the backing of the country's Air Force.

Iraqi tribes in Anbar province continue their attacks on the militants occupying the city of Fallujah. And the Iraqi government says it has taken all necessary measures in other provinces and sealed the border with Syria and Jordan to prevent militants entering those areas.

The Defense Ministry says the Air Force is providing back-up to the tribal fighters and has destroyed several militant strongholds to weaken them. The ministry says the army is now surrounding Anbar province and awaiting orders from the ministry.

It says the army has stayed out of the conflict to avoid civilian bloodshed. But the Air Force is under orders to shoot on sight. "We have taken all the required measures to ensure no militants can escape from Anbar, and the orders to the Air Force are clear." said Adnan Al-Shahmany, MP, Defense and Security Committee.

Iraqi politicians have praised the efforts of the security forces. They say coordination between the security ministries and the tribal fighters in Anbar Province is defeating the militants.

"The militants have miscalculated the situation. They never imagined that the tribes would support the army, and this cooperation and professional performance has drastically reduced terrorist activities in Iraq, if not ended them." said Shaker Kitab, Politician.

Political and security experts say attacks against civilians and security forces are noticeably down, indicating that the military operation in Anbar is having some effect.

"It's clear that the military operations and the tribal confrontations against the militants in the western desert of Iraq, including Anbar Province, have weakened if not ended major terrorist activities in Iraq, and we can feel that in the recent reduction of attacks." said Adnan Neama, Security Expert.

The Defense Ministry says military operations and the tribal fighters have killed 71 militants in Anbar Province since the beginning of the crisis. 113 others were wounded and captured for interrogation. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has declared the war in Anbar as a sacred one, stressing that it's only the beginning of ending the terrorism in Iraq.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 10Jan14]

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