Falluja residents who fled still fearful of escalating violence
Friday, January 10, 2014 - 01:26
Jan. 10 - Thousands of Falluja residents are staying away from the city, in fear of fighting between al Qaeda-linked militants and the government forces who pledged to crush them. Jillian Kitchener reports.
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Thousands of civilians have streamed out of Falluja since Al Qaeda-linked militants seized control over the city.
The city's clean-up has started, and the residents who stayed are now calling on their neighbors to return.
But some Falluja residents - now living in the city of Arbil - remain hesitant.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MAN FROM FALLUJA, ABDULKARIM, SAYING:
"When we were told that the army will conduct an attack on the city we became worried because we felt we civilians could become the victims. When the army enters the city there will be clashes in the streets with armed groups, and we know that there will be many victims because we've been through this before several times in Falluja."
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has promised to crush al Qaeda in Iraq, but has said the tanks and troops surrounding Falluja will not enter the city if local tribes expel the militants themselves.
This man doesn't want to get caught in the cross-fire.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MAN FROM FALLUJA, MONTHER ATTALAH, SAYING:
"The army shells residential areas of the city. When the shells land, they land randomly and there are areas where there aren't any militants present, they land on families who have caused no trouble. The people cannot stay in their houses, therefore we decided to flee."
According to the United Nations, more than 11,000 families have fled their homes in Anbar province, where Falluja is located.
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