BEIRUT (AP) — A rejuvenated al-Qaeda force asserted control over the western Iraqi town of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.
The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, the Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three- way war. [...]
The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while also escalating its activities in Iraq.
“At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,” said a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety. “The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.”