January 16, 2014
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribesmen have recaptured parts of the central city of Ramadi from Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported that the Hay Al-Malab district of southern Ramadi, which had been held by the insurgents, was retaken on January 16 and that 21 gunmen were killed in the fighting.
Within Fallujah, clashes were reported in two neighborhoods.
Military operations against militants in areas outside of Fallujah, including Albu Bali, were also reported.
The forces attacking in Albu Bali were also backed by tanks and aircraft.
The Iraqi Army has intervened in fighting outside of Ramadi and Fallujah but has held off from sending troops into those cities, both of which are less than 100 kilometers from Baghdad.
Militants were also on the streets distributing pamphlets calling on locals to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- an Al-Qaeda-linked group -- and help it in its fight against the security forces and their tribal allies, the AP news agency reported.
Brigadier General Hamid al-Dulaimi, commander of the Iraqi Army's Fourth Regiment, said some 85 percent of Ramadi and Fallujah are now under the control of security forces and Sunni tribesmen.
RFI reported that UN, Iraqi Red Crescent, and Red Cross trucks distributed relief aid to people sheltering in schools in Ramadi, and some supply trucks had also gone to Fallujah.
Residents of Ramadi complained of the nonstop violence, which began 15 days ago when militants took control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi when the army pulled out after dismantling a Sunni protest camp that angered locals.
"The situation on 69th Street is extremely dangerous," said Salih Abdulghani Salih, a resident in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. "Explosions and mortar fire are continuous throughout the night. We hear all the explosions but we don't know what's going on. Al-Farraj, Al-Bubali, and Al-Khalidiya are all scenes of explosions. We hear the mortar explosions all night. All the explosions and gunfire are going on at night; the security situation is very poor."
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, police found the bodies of 14 men abducted from their homes earlier on January 16 in the Sunni Arab town of Mishahda by men wearing army uniforms. All of the victims had died from gunshot wounds.
Elsewhere in the capital on January 16, a bomb exploded at an outdoor market in the eastern suburb of Nahrawan, killing at least three people and injuring six. Another bomb in western Baghdad killed at least two and wounded nine.
"We walk in the streets with a death certificate in our pockets," Baghdad shop-owner Raid Muhammad told supporters. "We always have the feeling that we won't go back home. The problem is that every one of us has a family, a wife, and children to feed, so how will they live without us?"
Nearly 600 people have been killed in Iraq this month, including at least 73 in Baghdad on January 15, the bloodiest day in the Iraqi capital in many months.
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