Sunni rebels yesterday captured two border cities in Iraq, one along the border with Jordan and the other with Syria, AP and Anadolu reported security sources saying.
Iraqi sources denied that both cities were taken by the Sunni rebels. “Information that the cities of Tarbil and Al-Waleed have been seized by ISIS militants is not true,” the spokesman of the Iraqi Interior Ministry Brigadier General Saad Maan said in a statement.
AP reported that the capture of the two cities, which include two Iraqi crossings with Jordan and Syria, followed the fall on Friday and Saturday of the towns of Qaim, Rawah, Anah and Rutba. All the cities are located in the Sunni dominated Al-Anbar province, where the rebels took control of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital Ramadi in January.
Sunni rebels are widely called affiliates to ISIS, but senior Sunni leaders insist the majority of the armed Sunni groups are rebels and tribesmen who are fighting against sectarian policy of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.
US Secretary of State John Kerry today arrived in Baghdad and is due to meet the Al-Maliki and Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
Al-Jazeera reported a US State department spokesman saying that Kerry is to “discuss US actions to assist Iraq… and urge Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to form a government that represents the interests of Iraqis.”