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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Anbar’s Tribes Want to Join Other Provinces Against ‘Iranian Occupation’

The Military Council of the Anbar Tribes Revolutionaries video in Arabic was released on Tuesday to deny reports that Falluja was surrounded.

As my colleagues Yasir Ghazi and Tim Arango reported, the fighting in Anbar province has exacerbated the animosity among Sunni civilians and tribal militias toward the Shiite dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

Underlining the escalating sectarian tensions, one such Sunni group, called the Military Council of the Anbar Tribes Revolutionaries, on Tuesday framed the battle as being against Iran, and said it was trying to expand its influence outside of Anbar to join forces with Sunni tribal fighters in other provinces to fight Mr. Maliki’s Shiite led government.

On its Facebook page, the group said in a statement that it was taking the steps because of the “criminal Maliki government, which is the hand of Iran in Iraq.”

It said the Anbar group’s fighters were joining forces with revolutionary councils representing Sunni tribes in other Iraq provinces “to stand in one trench” against the “Iranian occupation.” It mentioned the neighboring province of Salahuddin.

The council also posted a video recorded on Tuesday, in which militiamen said Falluja was in the hands of its people, and denied reports that the city was surrounded and besieged, saying they were steadfast and ready to fight to defend it: “There will be no withdrawal, only victory.”

The main narrator in the footage, speaking on a rooftop surrounded by armed fighters and overlooking a road, said: “We will burn up anything that moves along that highway.”

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.