Tuesday, April 24, 2007

US Allies Use Harsh Tactics in Falluja

Iraq's al-Anbar province tribe leaders attend a meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (unseen) in Ramadi 13 March 2007.
Salvation Front" Employs Summary Executions, Conscription

A tribal coalition in western Iraq and allied with the United States is using harsh tactics in its battle against al-Qa'ida in Anbar province, including summary executions, and conscription, according to local sources.

The Anbar Salvation Front, with the assistance of US and Iraqi forces, is closing the roads to Falluja, Slogger sources report.

The move to isolate the city comes after an activist in the front was killed a week ago, according to Slogger sources. The major entrances to the city lie on the two roads to Baghdad, and Ramadi, respectively, as well as the bridge across the Euphrates River to the South.

In addition to closing off the city, tribal forces are searching the rural areas around the city for al-Qa'ida-affiliated groups. As in Baghdad, rural areas around the city have been al-Qa'ida strongholds from which militants have proven difficult to dislodge.

Slogger sources in the area report that tribal, US, and Iraqi forces have isolated an area known as al-Halabsa, belonging to the al-Halbosi tribe. The Front, with US-Iraqi support, has also drawn upon the assistance of the al-Bu 'Isa tribe to control the areas around Amiriyat al-Falluja, to the south of Falluja city.

Amiriyat al-Falluja is a stronghold of al-Qa'ida militants, and the Front is clearly interested in cutting off the roads around it, in preparation for a direct assault. Their latest efforts have been directed to cutting off the road between the area and the nearby city of Saqlawiya.

The Anbar Salvation Front (referred to by Iraqi sources as the Abu Risha group, using the tribal name of the group’s principal leader, Abd al-Sattar Abu Risha), uses harsh measures against its captured enemies, Slogger sources report.

The group does not hand over captured al-Qa'ida suspects to the Iraqi police or even to the US military. When a group has concluded that any captive works with the al-Qa'ida militias, the suspect is executed with a bullet to the head.

Slogger sources pointed out that these harsh measures were employed by al-Qa'ida-affiliated groups against its enemies.

Residents of Falluja report finding bodies of people known to have worked with armed groups lying in the streets each morning, in an attempt to intimidate those who work with the armed groups of the area, including the al-Qa'ida-linked forces and the shadowy Jund Allah al-Mukhtaroun (Chosen Soldiers of God), which previously had made gains in the city.

The “Abu Risha group” is also competing with the militant groups for recruits, each hoping to starve the other of new soldiers and bolster its own ranks. Earlier reports from Falluja had suggested that the Jund Allah al-Mukhtaroun had been heavily recruiting in Falluja, but this trend appears to have been reversed, at least for the moment, according to Slogger sources in the city.

The tribal leader has also declared a conscription system in the area. Every family in Falluja must send at least one of their sons to fight with his tribal forces, on the orders of Shaykh Abu Risha.

Formed in Fall 2006, the Front represents a coalition of Sunni tribal leaders from Anbar province. It is aligned with US forces and the Iraqi government against al-Qa'ida in the Anbar area.


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