Al Qaeda, government forces, continue battling for control of two key Iraqi cities
Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - 01:16
Jan. 7 - Iraqi families flee Falluja and Ramadi as al Qaeda militants battle with government forces for control of the two key cities. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Armed gunmen in Iraq's western Anbar province, near the Syrian border.
This is where Iraqi government forces are fighting an offensive by Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda.
The insurgents call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
They took partial control of two key provincial cities last week, Ramadi and nearby Falluja.
The fighting's forced families from both cities to flee.
They've poured into the mostly Shi'ite town of Kerbala for refuge from the sectarian violence.
(SOUNDBITE) (ARABIC) UM AHMED, RESIDENT OF FALLUJA, SAYING:
"We have come from Falluja - the situation there is not good."
(SOUNDBITE) (ARABIC) HAIDER JASSIM, RESIDENT OF KERBALA , SAYING:
"God willing there is no difference between Anbar and Kerbala, we are all against terrorism, extremists and outlaws."
The capture of Ramadi and Falluja is a serious challenge to the authority of the Shi'ite-led provincial government.
In video released by the government, Iraqi forces continued to battle this week with the militants to regain control of both towns.
Dozens of militants have been reported killed.
It's unclear how many civilians and government forces have died in the fighting.
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