BAGHDAD: Sunni Arab tribesmen battled militants of the Islamic State group in their Fallujah stronghold for a second day today in a major blow to the jihadists in Iraq, officials said.
Fallujah is one of two Iraqi cities still controlled by IS, but residents — said to number in the tens of thousands — vastly outnumber the estimated 300 to 400 jihadists inside it.
IS has had plenty of time to assert its control over the civilian population and has carried out large numbers of arrests and public executions in the city.
“Armed confrontations between the sons of the Fallujah tribes and the Daesh organisation are continuing,” an army brigadier general said, using an Arabic acronym for IS. The clashes are taking place in Al-Jolan in northwest Fallujah and Nazal in the centre, the officer said, adding that the army was shelling IS positions on the outskirts.
There have been casualties among both the tribesmen and the jihadists, the officer said, without giving a number. Tribal leader Sheikh Majeed al-Juraisi said that fighting was continuing in both the centre and north of Fallujah. The tribesmen “are beginning to run out of supplies and need the support of the government,” he added.
There is “fear that they will completely run out and afterwards the Daesh organisation will arrest and massacre them.”
In 2014 and 2015, IS executed dozens of members of the Albu Nimr tribe, which opposed the jihadists’ seizure of most of Anbar province, including Fallu-jah. Saadun Obaid al-Shaalan, who was elected by a local council to administer the Fallujah area, confirmed that the fighting was ongoing, saying that tribesmen had posted snipers on rooftops in the Al-Askari area of east Fallujah.