Al-Qaida retook Fallujah in western Iraq Friday, where its black flags can now be seen fluttering atop government buildings.
Over the last week, al-Qaida has made strong gains in western Iraq, and also took control of part of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, the Long War Journal reported. The Washington Post reports that “Awakening” tribesmen opposed to al-Qaida have since gained the upper hand in Ramadi. Iraqi government special forces continue to battle the terrorists, and the status of the towns outside the two mid-sized cities is not known.
Both Fallujah and Ramadi were early strongholds for the Islamist terror group, but became symbols of American and Iraqi perseverance after a 2004 Marine Corps invasion freed Fallujah in the bloodiest American battle of the war, and the “Anbar Awakening” saw tribal leaders rise against al-Qaida, which had been ruling its territory with merciless violence.
In recent days, the province, which borders war-torn, al-Qaida-ridden Syria, has devolved into a three-way conflict between forces from al-Qaida, the tribes and the government.
“The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaida in Iraq organization that formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while also escalating its activities in Iraq,” The Washington Post reports.
Under President Barack Obama, U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq by the end or 2011. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” the president said.
The president advocated military action against Syria’s dictatorship, which is battling ISIS, in 2013, but was rebuffed by Congress.
In this video uploaded Jan. 1, Iraqi military vehicles are seen burning after an ambush in Fallujah: