Iraqi forces are planning a “major attack” against al Qaeda militants in Fallujah, and while Washington has said it would assist, Secretary of State John Kerry has made it clear that no new U.S. troops will be redeployed to the region.
The al Qaeda occupation of Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi marks the first instance of militants exacting such open control in major urban areas since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Secretary of State Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem on Sunday that the U.S. would assist Iraqi forces that are mostly posted up on the outskirts of Fallujah, commenting that it was “their fight.” Baghdad already has special forces troops conducting small operations inside the city. Kerry added that Washington is “very, very concerned” about the al Qaeda resurgence, but asserted that no new U.S. ground troops would be redeployed after their withdrawal in December 2011.
“We are not obviously contemplating returning, we are not contemplating putting boots on the ground, this is their fight,” Kerry said, adding, “But we’re going to help them in their fight. We are going to do everything that is possible to help them.”
Fighting intensifies for control of Fallujah:
Fallujah is presently under the control of members of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has also claimed the village of Bubali near Ramadi on Sunday. Iraqi ground forces commander Staff General Ali Ghaidan Majeed commented, “we do not know what is happening in Fallujah,” but said the city should “wait for what is coming.”
On Friday and Saturday, more than 160 people were killed in the Anbar province. In 2013, violence in the region reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just recovering from a brutal period of sectarian slayings.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.