Iraq: Anbar Council calls for Fallujah truce extension
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Anbar Provincial Council has called for an extension to the three-day truce in Fallujah that had been scheduled to end on Tuesday.
The Iraqi government on Saturday announced a 72-hour halt of military operations in the city of Fallujah as a “goodwill” gesture. Fallujah remains under the control of insurgents, including members of the jihadist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Anbar Provincial Council official Adhal Al-Fahdawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The provincial council has not officially received any word from the government on whether the three-day truce that was granted to us to work towards alleviating the crisis in the city will be extended or not.”
“We are calling for an open-ended deadline because we have made more progress over the past three days than we did at any time before. The previous period witnessed indiscriminate shelling that led to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi citizens,” he added.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that “military operations taken against selected terrorist organization targets in Fallujah have been stopped for a period of 72 hours.”
The announcement was made following a historic visit last week by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to Iraq’s restive Anbar province.
Maliki visited the Al-Assad military base west of Ramadi, where he met with military commanders and tribal leaders to discuss the ongoing army operations in the region.
Regarding the progress secured by Anbar Provincial Council over the past three days, Fahdawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Council has held good meetings with various tribal, religious and civil groups in Fallujah, and there is a conviction among many of these groups regarding the necessity of negotiation in order to reach a solution that is acceptable to both parties.”
“Many deceived fighters also used the truce as an opportunity to lay down their arms. This has allowed us to differentiate between citizens who have been deceived and those who call themselves tribal rebels,” he added.
The Anbar Provincial Council member said: “There are many tribal and religious leaders who are trying to defuse the crisis in order to reach a solution. In light of this we are calling for an open-ended deadline, because the solution to the Fallujah crisis will come from the tribal community, not from the military.”
Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi echoed calls for a ceasefire in Fallujah earlier this week. Nujaifi, who heads the Sunni Arab Mutahidoun bloc, called for a suspension of military operations across Anbar during a press conference in Baghdad on Monday.
“The government must totally suspend its military operations in Anbar,” Nujaifi said, adding that “displaced Anbar residents . . . must go back to their homes.”