Insurgents in Iraq are preparing for an assault on their positions by government forces. A group calling itself the Leadership of the Military Council for the Rebels, which was formed in Fallujah, announced yesterday that it has put all of its fighters on alert to respond to the expected attack by the army on the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah itself, in the Anbar province of Iraq.
A spokesman for the rebel council pointed out that the head of what they describe as the "sectarian government", Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, is seeking to break resistance in Fallujah and Ramadi to prevent the establishment of a unified anti-government movement. Such a grouping, they claim, will show that people are standing in support of the "rebel clans". He added that the Military Council for the Rebels will work to establish the unified group so that the world will be able to hear the voice of the six provinces in their uprising against the government.
Tribal leaders in Fallujah formed the Military Council on Thursday. They agreed that the leadership of the rebel group must include armed tribal members to preserve the security and defence of the city. The agreement also stipulated that the council leaders must work in collaboration with the police and local municipality in Fallujah.
This move comes as medical sources report that civilians were killed and wounded in Fallujah yesterday in heavy shelling by government forces of the Shuhada district. Two cars were set on fire on the highway east of the city after a convoy tried to enter. In Saqlawiyah, north-west of Fallujah, a tank was knocked out while protecting military convoys, while two other vehicles were destroyed at an intersection east of the city. Local sources said that the bombing by the Iraqi army, which targeted residential areas in eastern Fallujah led to the displacement of a number of families.
Agence France-Presse quoted an official in the Iraqi Interior Ministry as saying that half of the city of Fallujah is now in the hands of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" affiliated with Al-Qaeda while the other half is in the hands of militant tribes who have been fighting the Iraqi army since the dispersal of the protests across Al-Anbar governorate last Monday.