U.S. diplomat John Kerry announced Sunday that although the U.S. supports Iraqi efforts against al-Qaeda, the U.S. will send no troops from America to aid Iraq.
John Kerry called the Iraqi conflict taking place in Anbar province “their fight,” and said that the U.S. was “not contemplating” involving themselves in that fight.
John Kerry announced that America would send no troops from the U.S. to Iraq after a week of conflict had taken place in Anbar province.
Last Monday Iraqi police took apart an anti-government protest site in Anbar. Following the breakup of the camp, at least 13 people were killed in clashes between Sunni protesters and police. Tensions were already high in the region, as a Sunni leader had been captured by Iraqi security forces and the brother of that leader had been killed.
In order to quell tensions after the protest site was dismantled, Iraqi Prime minister Nuri al-Maliki removed the army from Anbar’s cities.
Shortly after Iraqi forces withdrew from the cities, clashes erupted in Ramadi and Fallujah.
The clashes were followed by a decision by al-Maliki to send military reinforcements to Anbar rather than withdraw. Al-Maliki said that he was sending the reinforcements in response to Anbar residents and government officials, who had requested help.
On Friday 75 al-Qaeda-linked soldiers were killed in western Iraq in two separate incidents. 52 militants were killed in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and 23 militants were killed near Ramadi, according to local police.
Ramadi is approximately 60 miles west of Baghdad.
One of those killed was Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi was one of the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Saturday, tribesmen and al-Qaeda battled Iraqi security forces in Fallujah and took control of the city. The battle began when dozens of armed men assaulted a base outside Fallujah and partially took control of it.
For a period after the conquest, hundreds of Sunni tribesmen walked in Fallujah’s streets, carrying rifles and grenade-launchers.
Also Saturday, 55 al-Qaeda-linked soldiers were killed. The 55 killed were casualties of two separate incidents. 25 died in battles with Iraqi security forces combined with local Sunni tribesmen. About 30 were reported killed by the Iraqi Air Force outside Fallujah.
The militants belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This region is commonly referred to in Iraq as al-Qaeda.
In addition to the 55 al-Qaeda militants eight soldiers and two tribesmen fighting against the al-Qaeda militants were killed.
These deaths are the worst violent exchange in Anbar in recent years.
The al-Qaeda takeover of Anbar is significant because it is the first time al-Qaeda-linked militants have had so much open control of major cities since the insurgency following the 2003 invasion led by the U.S.
In Ramadi, tribesmen hostile to al-Qaeda have been finding it hard to hunt down militants because families have taken them in and the al-Qaeda-hostile tribesmen have not been able to persuade the families to eject their guests.
The Iraqi army too was reluctant to attack the militants because the militants were residing with families. However, the army warned the host-families that there would be immanent strikes against the rebels, and that the families should stay away from the militants.
Sunnis in the region have been protesting during the last year. The Sunnis accuse the Shiite-led government of mistreating them. Particularly, the Sunnis complain of arrest, torture and killing at the hands of Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has made several victories recently across the region. Notably, ISIL is among the strongest rebel groups in Syria, where it holds territories and imposes strict Islamic law on all people in those territories. Recently a suicide car bombing in Lebanon was claimed by ISIL Saturday.
John Kerry is visiting Jerusalem, where he made the announcement that the U.S. would send to troops to Iraq before proceeding to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
By Day Blakely Donaldson