Saturday, May 31, 2014

31 May 2014

The Anbar crisis is today entering its sixth month.

Yesterday, suicide bombers detonated their vests at the Al-Bu'abaid police command HQ on Al-Khalidiya Island; gunmen were attempting to seize the post amid the eruption of heavy clashes resulting in the capture and arrest of 4 of the attacking gunmen, while 2 others were killed. The army sent in reinforcements to the area.

Fierce clashes also erupted in Al-Kubaisa, a township southwest of Hit in western Anbar, when gunmen launched an attack aimed at capturing the town. The local police, supported by army personnel, responded quickly; the gunmen then withdrew to an unknown destination after a gunfight that lasted about 30 minutes.

In Fallujah, local police supported by tribal forces and army units tried to enter Al-Saqlawiya, southwest of the city, where they clashed with groups of gunmen; the security forces are affirming that they are now in control of the area.
In Fallujah itself, the Al-Maftoul crossing - the only access point into or out of the city - was closed today. Meanwhile, indiscriminate shelling continued through last night and into noontime today. At least 3 persons were killed and 7 were wounded by the shelling. Local and international relief organizations are providing aid while trying to evacuate the remaining civilians from the city, in response to reports of an imminent military thrust into the city within the next few days.

The Anbar Governorate Council has stressed that there will not be an assault on Fallujah, and arrangements are still being made for convening the conference on the Anbar situation in Baghdad.

Friday, May 30, 2014

30 May 2014

In Ramadi, a curfew has been imposed today after gunmen blew up the Al-Khalidiya Bridge late last night. A car bomb driven by a suicide vest clad gunman detonated the explosives at a military barracks on the bridge, causing massive damage to the bridge. This is the 24th bridge to be blown up in Anbar Governorate since the crisis began in December 2013.
Meanwhile, medium-intensity clashes have taken place in the city's southern sector districts. Security sources indicate that these clashes have taken place following the encirclement of the gunmen within them.

In Fallujah, indiscriminate shelling is continuing; there were also fierce clashes yesterday that lasted through the night and into this morning. The heavy fighting took place at the location of the partially constructed buildings belonging to Fallujah University in southern Fallujah. The Fallujah General Hospital's initial casualty count, as announced by Dr. Ahmed Al-Shami, the lead resident at the hospital, stands at 12 people wounded and no deaths today.

The Anbar Governorate Council has welcomed Al-Maliki's proposal for a general conference on the Anbar crisis, as have some parties, blocs and tribal sheikhs taking part in the local Anbar government. They have indicated their initial acceptance to take part in the conference, provided that all of its decisions must be binding on all parties.
The Council has also announced that the governorate needs large financial amounts in order to complete the reconstruction of Anbar's  infrastructure. Estimates show that more than 200 billion dinars will be needed for the reconstruction.

The overall security situation is still confusing as a result of the renewed clashes and the curfew, but some Ramadi districts are still facing a lack of municipal services; some services are fearful of sending their people into some districts and this is delaying the resumption of services such as water and electricity supplies.

The conditions being faced by the displaced families have not changed. Hundreds, if not thousands, of families are demanding and calling upon the local and central governments  to provide food and the funds required.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

29 May 2014

Fallujah is still surrounded on all sides by Iraqi army forces. Fierce clashes have taken place on the city's perimeter and in the partially constructed area of buildings belonging to Fallujah University. Many of the city's districts have been shelled, from Al-Sichir in the north, the city's central districts, and on into Al-Nu'aimiya in the south. Since last night and into this afternoon, at least 4 residents have been killed and 8 wounded by the shelling.

Military operations have also been underway in Al-Garma, northeast of Fallujah, with fierce clashes continuing between the groups of gunmen and the security forces supported by army units.

In Ramadi, military operations are continuing in the city's southern sector. Yesterday there were heavy clashes in the Al-Hawz district in southwestern Ramadi which then spread into other southern districts. An Anbar Police Command spokesman has stated that they are continuing their military operations in order to regain total control of Ramadi, and that the last square-shaped area still occupied in central Ramadi by the gunmen is totally surrounded. The source expects that total control will be achieved within one week. The areas that have been taken over by the security forces are now completely secure and we have seen some families returning to their homes in those areas.

Regarding the displaced persons, there are still many families, especially from Fallujah, that have made their way to other governorates, to Kurdistan, to Baghdad, and to the towns in western Anbar. The latter displaced families are still facing shortages of food and of the relief aid provided by the relief agencies and the local government. The local authorities are being called upon to provide medicines and medical care for the sick and the elderly, following the announcement by the Anbar Council that it is proving each displaced family with 500,000 Dinars.

Reaction to Al-Maliki's proposed conference that would be attended by all parties in the conflict has been largely positive, having been welcomed by the local government and many of the tribal sheikhs. However, some tribal sheikhs are rejecting the idea, saying that the step has come too late and that the humanitarian situation needs to be resolved first.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

28 May 2014

We take a look first at the reactions to the speech by Nouri Al-Maliki in which he referred to the Anbar crisis and its resolution. The Anbar Governorate Council has welcomed the proposal for a general conference that would resolve the crisis and end the suffering of those who have been displaced, before the month of Ramadan which is due to begin in about 30 days. Favorable opinions have also been expressed by the tribal sheikhs who would also take part in the conference.

On the ground, some military operations have been carried out that resulted in clashes in different parts of Fallujah. Many residential districts have been shelled, resulting in 3 residents being killed and 3 others wounded.
Gunmen have regained control of the southern area of uncompleted buildings belonging to Fallujah University after a battle that lasted several hours.

In Ramadi the news is more positive. Security forces are still surrounding the gunmen in a square-shaped area of the city. Some displaced families have been returning to their homes in the central, eastern, and western districts. Intermittent clashes have been limited to the southern sectors of the city.

There have been some media statements regarding the reports from international organizations about the use of explosive-filled drums and about some of the practices being used by the gunmen groups that may be considered war crimes, particularly in Fallujah. The local government has called on all parties to desist from resorting to such practices that cause large numbers of civilian casualties.

The displaced persons of Anbar are still decrying the lack of services; some of the migrants demonstrated today in the western regions of Anbar, demanding an improvement in services, and the disbursement of the funds allocated by the central government. Meanwhile the local government has issued a press statement, saying that it is going to raise a case against the Iraqi parliament in support of demands for the disbursement of funds.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

27 May 2014

Fallujah is still under strict security measures, amid substantiated reports of plans to launch an offensive into the city within hours or within the next few days. Meanwhile a military operation to re-establish control over the uncompleted buildings belonging to Fallujah University in the southwestern sector of the city began at dawn yesterday.
Many of the city's residential districts have been shelled, including Al-Nu'aimiya to the south and Al-Sichir to the north. According to the Fallujah General Hospital, 2 residents have been killed and 4 others have been wounded up to noontime today.

Military operations are still underway in the areas around Al-Garma. We have also observed shelling of the southwestern districts of Al-Garma, northeast of Fallujah.

Military operations are also continuing in the desert areas along the Tigris, south of FallujahSecurity forces are saying that they will attempt a six-front assault on Fallujah from all around the city. Meanwhile strict security measures have been imposed on Amiriyat Al-Fallujah in order to prevent the gunmen from moving out of Fallujah into this township.

Anbar police sources have said that the operations in Ramadi are ongoing, and there have been reports from the Anbar Command confirming that security forces have regained control of large portions of Ramadi and that more than 90% of Ramadi's districts have been taken over by local police. Gunmen are now surrounded in a square-shaped area in southeastern Ramadi. We have seen that a few families have returned to the districts that have been liberated in the city that are now relatively calm.

Regarding those displaced from Ramadi and Fallujah after nearly five months of military operations, they are having to endure severe living conditions, especially those who left their homes when fighting first broke out. Their funds and other necessities they took with them are all gone. They are demanding of the local government to provide them with the funds allocated to them, and to provide them with their food aid allocations. They are also calling on all the various aid and relief agencies to provide them with food aid that they so desperately need, given the long duration of the crisis.

During our movements around Ramadi we have observed the collapse of the city's infrastructure; there is huge damage and destruction in most of Ramadi's residential districts. It is being reported that Ramadi's reconstruction will take five years to complete, according to the Anbar Governorate Council which pointed to the huge damage caused by military operations. The local government has called on the central government to begin disbursing the funds allocated for the compensation of Anbari residents.

Monday, May 26, 2014

26 May 2014

According to the Anbar Operations Command sources, the army forces on the Fallujah perimeter are being inspected in preparation for an offensive into the city during the coming few hours. The sources added that the offensive would be launched on more than six fronts around the city. The armed forces are using aircraft and artillery shelling to strike at most of the city's residential districts, including Al-Nu'aimiya and Al-Julan to the south, the city's central districts, and on up to Al-Sichir to the north and northeast. A preliminary count shows that seven residents have been killed and twelve others wounded as a result of the bombardment.

The Relief Aid Organization official in Fallujah, Mohammed Al-Girtani, has said that there are still at least 5,000 families within Fallujah and that there are difficulties in getting them out of the city. Families are also fleeing the city after hearing security reports of an imminent assault on Fallujah within the next few hours or days.

In Ramadi, the military operation in the southern and southwestern sectors of the city is still underway, after the security forces' regaining control of some of the area's districts, but other districts in the southern sector are still the scenes of intermittent clashes between security forces and the groups of gunmen.

The Anbar Governorate Council has warned against launching an offensive on Fallujah, saying that it is opposed to such military operations that would result in numerous civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, those who have been displaced from Ramadi and Fallujah who are now sheltering in school buildings in the western regions of Anbar are still calling for attention to the fact that they have not yet received any of the funds that have been allocated for them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

25 May 2014

Fallujah has been the scene, since last night and through noontime today, of military operations along the city's perimeter accompanied by the shelling of a number of its residential districts including Al-Sichir in the north and Al-Nu'aimiya in the south. The preliminary casualty count as announced by the Fallujah General Hospital lists 7 residents killed and 20 others wounded. The overall count now stands at 370 killed and at least 1,347 wounded since the eruption of fighting in December 2013.
Authoritative information indicates that the Iraqi army is planning to launch an overall offensive into the city within the next two days, especially now that the gunmen seized control yesterday of Fallujah University in the southeast sector of the city. The military is also planning to assault and take over the countryside areas around the city in addition to areas within the city itself.

In Ramadi, local police supported by army forces are carrying out security operations aimed at regaining control of areas within the city's southern sector. The Anbar Police commander, General Isma'il Al-Mhalawi, has affirmed that all of Ramadi's residential districts will be secured within this week. However residents are still unable to enter the residential districts.

Meanwhile more people are leaving Fallujah, thus swelling the numbers of migrants who have already left both Ramadi and Fallujah, who are still facing difficult living conditions, especially with the spread of disease. The Anbar Health Authority has revealed that a number of diseases, particularly skin conditions, are spreading among the displaced migrants who have taken refuge in school buildings where the summer heat is compounding their suffering.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

24 May 2014

In Fallujah, since last night and into this afternoon, military operations have continued without any army penetration into the city itself, given the fierce resistance shown by the gunmen. Army units are still positioned around the city's perimeter. Many Fallujah residential districts have been bombarded.
A medical source at the Fallujah General Hospital stated that 4 people have been killed and 19 others have been wounded today as a result of the shelling that has targeted many of the city's districts, as well as the northern sector around Al-Sichir and the northern sector around Al-Nu'aimiya.
The city's water-treatment plant was hit and has been severely damaged. Last week, the power plant was hit, depriving the whole city of electrical power.
Stringent security measures are still in place along the city's perimeter. The only access into and out of the city is at Al-Maftoul which is being opened at specific times to allow residents to leave the city.

In Ramadi, military operations are also continuing and a curfew is still in place amid strict security measures. The curfew has been lifted in the quieter residential districts but is still being enforced in the southern sector.
An Anbar police source has affirmed that security forces have advanced, particularly in the southern and southwestern districts which are now under their control.

In another development, a car bomb parked near the administration offices in Haditha - 138 km west of Ramadi and which has been safe and secure and free of any military operations - was detonated, wounding 7 people of whom 4 are local police personnel. The vicinity was secured and a curfew has been in place through this morning.

Meanwhile the situation being faced by the displaced Anbaris remains unchanged. A member of parliament from Anbar and chairperson of the Migrants and Displaced Persons Committee, Liqa'a Wardi, has revealed that cases of skin diseases have been reported among the migrants as a result of the rise in temperatures and water pollution; there have also been reports about the spread of other diseases - such as cholera, bilharzias, and malaria. She has also stressed that the migrants are in desperate need of relief aid.

Friday, May 23, 2014

23 May 2014

In Fallujah today, the shelling which began last night and has continued into this afternoon was targeted at several of the city's districts. There were also simultaneous military operations in the southern and northeastern sectors of the city. A source at the Fallujah General Hospital says that 4 residents have been killed and 7 others wounded, which when added to previous casualty numbers show that the totals to date are at least 347 killed and at least 1,486 wounded.

Aerial surveillance is ongoing and there has been some aerial bombing of residential districts.
Meanwhile, more families have left the southern and northern sector districts. Fifty families have left today to seek refuge in Habbaniya and the relatively calm eastern districts of Ramadi.

In Ramadi today, a curfew has been announced from 06:00 until further notice; the Anbar police command says that this because of the military operations that have included the aim of completing the operations that have been ongoing in several Ramadi residential districts where intermittent clashes are still occurring. These districts have been closed off and no residents have been allowed to return to their homes because - according to the police announcements - there are still explosive devices and booby-trapped houses inside the districts. Strict security measures are in place along the city's perimeter, and aerial surveillance and bombing are still targeting the gunmen's positions.

Generally, Ramadi's western districts are experiencing a spell of calm and security for about the last 20 days; there is normal activity and living conditions are normal, with some families having been able to return to their homes, but those who have been displaced to the governorate's western regions - mainly from Fallujah and Ramadi - are still living under difficult conditions. Some of the displaced people have today called upon the local government to act on the disbursement of the funds that have been allocated to them by the government.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

22 May 2014

In Fallujah, yesterday's two-front military offensive - from the south and northeast of the city - was thwarted by the gunmen's fierce resistance in battles that lasted for more than six hours. The security forces - mainly the Iraqi army - turned to the heavy shelling of many of the city's residential districts, resulting in 7 civilians killed and 5 others wounded, according to the Fallujah General Hospital.

In Ramadi, a major military operation has been underway since last night in the city's southern sector. The security forces are still saying that they are advancing toward the sector's farther reaches; a source at the Anbar police command has stated that the operation will be completed within one week, allowing residents to return to their homes.

Regarding the displaced persons situation, there are still some residents moving out of Fallujah; today, more than 200 families have left the city and made their way to Habbaniya, northeast of Ramadi. They are facing difficult living conditions, as there is no food aid being provided by either the central or local governments. The limited amount of available aid is not enough to provide for the 400 -  600 thousand displaced within Anbar governorate, while others have made their way to Baghdad, Kurdistan, and even out of Iraq.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

21 May 2014

The Anbar Governorate Office announced this afternoon that security forces have taken total control of the Al-Hawz, Al-Humaira, Street 60, Al-Andalus, and Al-Thubbat districts of Ramadi's southern sector where military operations have been ongoing for about four months. This is a success, which was achieved after fierce battles that were announced last night by the Anbar Police Commander, General Isma'il Mhalawi.

Meanwhile in Fallujah, offensive operations were launched on two fronts - from Al-Nu'aimiya in the southern sector and from Al-Sichir to the north - but the security forces were unable to penetrate into the city because of the fierce resistance by the gunmen; clashes and battles are still going on, albeit intermittently, in those areas.
Other operations, described by security sources as being pre-emptive, have included shelling targeted at some of the districts where gunmen are positioned according to claims by the security forces. The Fallujah General Hospital has announced that one resident has been killed and 6 others have been wounded in the shelling of Al-Wahda, Al-Askari, Al-Judhaifi, Nazzal, and Al-Julan districts, in addition to the northeastern Al-Risala district.

Late last night it was announced that more than 21,000 have been displaced from the city's southern sector; they are the last of the families who had remained in the that sector. They are today making their way toward Anbar's western regions. The head of the Habbaniya township, Fawzi Zbar, announced that more than 200 families have arrived in the township where they have taken refuge in the township's schools, more than 30 of which have been vacated in order to accommodate them. Mr. Zbari has called on the humanitarian, human rights, and service organizations to provide food aid for these displaced families. Al-Rutba township has also received more than 400 families, as have Hit, Haditha, Rawa, and Al-Qaim townships.

Since last Sunday, the Anbar University has received large numbers of students from the Fallujah University. They are now attending classes at the Anbar University in Ramadi. On Monday, the Anbar University announced that it was providing each of these students with 100,000 Dinars (about 86 USD) per moth, after the central Education Ministry had announced providing them with 50,000 Dinars. We have visited the Anbar University where we observed basically normal activity and we learned that the academic year is to be extended because of the security situation; final exams for this year will probably take place in early August.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

20 May 2014

In Ramadi, government forces have announced a military campaign that has been launched in the city's southern sector residential districts, involving huge explosions and fierce clashes and aerial and artillery bombardment; we do not yet have any information about the outcome. Stringent security measures are being enforced, including the closing of some streets and the establishment of checkpoints. This comes after a week of relative calm that had raised residents' hopes for stabilizing the security situation, but the opposite has taken place with the resumption of military operations.

In Fallujah, military operations are continuing but security forces are still holding their positions about 4 kilometers from the city's perimeter. But shelling and aerial attacks are still being launched at a number of the city's residential districts. Three residents have been killed according to initial reports and 5 others have been wounded; most of the casualties have been women and children.

Only one access point is operational in Fallujah that allows residents to enter or leave the city; however, the crossing is being closed and then suddenly re-opened at irregular intervals.

There have been negative public reactions to the announced election results, with challenges being made by many of the participating political blocs and parties. Some have even made legal complaints to the Federal Court, expressing their rejection of the results, which have gone against the people's expectations, even though the results were more or less expected by observers and election experts because of the manner and circumstances of the voting and vote-tallying.

Monday, May 19, 2014

19 May 2014

The announced results of the April 30th parliamentary elections have been described by some of the political blocs and parties as being as expected; the only changes have been the emergence of some new faces in the representatives of Anbar Governorate. The results show:

- The Al-Muttahidoun list with four seats,
- The Wafa'a lil-Anbar list with three seats,
- The Al-Wataniya list with two seats,
- The Al-Arabiya list with two seats,
- The Al-Khalas list with one seat,
- The Idarat Al-Iraq list with one seat.

These will be Anbar's representatives in the new Iraqi parliament; citizens are hoping for a 'qualitative leap' in their representation in Parliament.

Fallujah is still being heavily shelled; the moratorium on military operations is limited to ground action, but air attacks are still being conducted against the gunmen's positions. Meanwhile, the Fallujah General Hospital has announced that 3 people - a woman and 2 children - were killed and 3 others were wounded in the shelling aimed at a number of the city's residential districts, the northern Al-Sichir region, and the Al-Nu'aimiya region to the south.

In Ramadi, the situation is much better than it is in Fallujah; the city is relatively calm but the city's southern sector is still the scene of intermittent clashes.

The displaced Anbaris are calling for speedy action in providing them with financial assistance and food aid to supplement the meager relief that has been provided so far by the various humanitarian organizations.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

18 May 2014

The security forces positioned around Fallujah that launched their military operations more than a week ago in an offensive against the city have surprised everyone today by ending their operations, while continuing their aerial strikes, in an apparent result of calls made by the local government and civil organizations to avoid the targeting civilians in their military operations. The security forces are now camped less than 4 kilometers from the city limits, but they are still bombarding residential districts; initial reports today indicate that 4 residents were killed and 4 others were wounded in the shelling aimed at these districts and districts in the northern and south/southwestern sectors of the city.

In Ramadi, the situation is relatively calm and life is returning to normal in the city. Today we observed that classes are being held at Anbar University as well as in the schools located in the calmer districts. The Education Ministry had earlier announced the postponement of exams until further notice in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Al-Khalidiya; however it has allowed schools in the safe districts within these cities to hold exams. Students among the displaced families in other Anbar regions are also being allowed to sit for their exams in their temporary locations.

Also in Ramadi, there is some activity in the public markets and residents are moving around but they are afraid of the renewal of military operations in Ramadi. Some residents took part in a demonstration in the city center, demanding that both the security forces and the gunmen leave the residential districts in order to allow the return of the displaced migrants.

In the western town of Al-Rutba, the leader of the local government council today announced that 1,000 Fallujah migrants will be received by his township. Meanwhile, aid agencies are still trying to provide some food aid to those who have been displaced to the governorate's western townships, but their living conditions and the shortages are making life very difficult for them. The local government has called on the central government to provide the funds allocated in the budget for the relief of the migrants.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

17 May 2014

The Fallujah General Hospital was hit today by three mortar rounds but there were no casualties; only structural damage to the emergency room; the hospital director has called on security forces to avoid a repetition of such incidents, since the hospital provides medical services to Fallujah's civilians. This is the seventh time that the hospital has been hit since the Anbar crisis began four months ago.

The hospital announced today that 5 residents have been killed and 15 others were wounded as a result of the renewed clashes in Al-Sichir and an adjacent residential district. The fighting between the security forces and the gunmen resulted in the gunmen forcing the military forces to withdraw to their initial positions; the gunmen's fierce resistance included the use of both light and heavy weapons in the confrontation.

Clashes have also resumed in the southernmost districts of Fallujah where the fighting is being described as running street battles with both sides using high-tech weapons that have been brought into the governorate. Government tactics are being described as 'scorched earth' tactics: they have been unable to advance and are resorting to striking at the gunmen by striking the residential districts where the gunmen have set themselves up, using mortar and artillery fire and aerial bombardment, hoping to weaken them prior to attempting incursions in the long term.

In Ramadi, the city is relatively calm and there is normal activity in the public markets. There are districts that have been abandoned by the gunmen, to be replaced by SWAT teams and other security forces, allowing residents to return to their homes in those districts. Residents have been demonstrating against their being banned from entering their districts by security forces, even though these districts have been deemed secure; the protesters are demanding that they be granted the appropriate permits within one week.

The humanitarian situation in Anbar, especially regarding  the people who have been displaced from Ramadi and Fallujah, is still forcing the migrants to shelter in unsuitable conditions, with most families having taken refuge in school buildings where 5 - 10 people are sharing a single classroom. There are also shortages of electricity, water, and foodstuffs. Some humanitarian organizations, particularly the Red Crescent, the Red Cross, and the local government have provided some aid but the sheer numbers of migrants has made it very difficult to provide for all of them. Many are suffering from long-term health conditions such as diabetes; there are also the children and the elderly with their special requirements. The widespread dispersal of the migrant families has made it difficult, for example, for the Anbar health authorities to carry out their task of vaccinating children against polio. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

16 May 2014

In Fallujah, military operations and fierce fighting are still ongoing in various parts of the city. Most of these districts are also being shelled. Casualties have been limited to 8 civilians injured. According to local government sources, these lower numbers are probably due to the fact that only about 10% of the city's residents are still within the city, while the other 90% have been displaced elsewhere in the governorate's western regions. More than 500 school buildings have been opened to provide shelter for these migrants from Ramadi and Fallujah. Security forces have been in action in a number of areas that lie outside the city limits, but they have as yet been unable to penetrate into the city itself. Government forces are adopting a strategy of launching air and artillery attacks on areas occupied by gunmen concentrations. The aim is to weaken the groups of gunmen to an extent that would then allow them to enter the city. With all access routes into and out of the city being closed, government forces are basically waiting for the gunmen to run out of weapons and ammunition.

In Ramadi, the situation is markedly quieter than in Fallujah, but clashes are still intermittently erupting, particularly in the city's southern sector. Many are expecting that the conference proposed by the Anbar Governorate Council, that may be convened next week in Baghdad and attended by government and political leaders from all over the country, might result in resolving the situation in Anbar.

The number of migrants is increasing from the areas in and around Abu Ghraib as a result of the continuously rising flood levels of the Euphrates River; gunmen are still controlling the Fallujah barrage.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

15 May 2014

The security situation in Anbar is still escalated, particularly in Fallujah where military operations are continuing for the fifth day in succession. Fierce clashes have raged in a number of the city's districts, with initial reports indicating that 4 residents have been killed and 6 others wounded by the indiscriminate shelling on numerous residential districts. There were also battles in the city's northern sector Al-Sichir district, and in Al-Nu'aimiya, but as of this hour the security forces have not been able to enter or penetrate the city. Some sources are saying that the gunmen within the city are putting up fierce resistance, which is the way the situation has been over the past five days. There was also fighting in the city's western Al-Saqlawiya region. The Anbar Operations Command has announced that 4 gunmen have been killed in the fighting and shelling. Similar military action is also underway in Al-Garma, northeast of Fallujah.

On the political front, the Anbar Governorate Council leader, Sabah Karhout, has announced Council plans to convene a general national conference; Nouri Al-Maliki, Masoud Barzani, Ammar Al-Hakim, and Muqtada Al-Sadr have been called upon to attend the conference which will probably take place in Baghdad. Both sides in the Anbar crisis have also been called upon to attend. Dr. Sheikh Abdul-Malik Al-Sa'adi, the Mufti of Iraq and Anbar, is expected to approve of the conference. The Anbar Council has announced his acceptance of his invitation. The conference is expected to table all the parties' points of view for discussion, in an effort at playing a part in the return of the displaced families - comprising more than 700,000 people within and outside Anbar - to return to their homes from the difficult conditions they are now experiencing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

14 May 2014

Fallujah is still totally blockaded on all sides. Heavy clashes have raged in Al-Sichir north of Fallujah, and a number of the city's residential districts have been indiscriminately shelled, including the city center.

In Ramadi, fierce clashes erupted when security forces launched operations in the city's southern sector.

Elsewhere in Anbar, a car bomb was detonated in the town center of Hit in western Anbar, injuring 7 local police personnel.

The security situation in Anbar, especially in Ramadi and Fallujah, is still in a state of escalation.

A meeting was expected to be convened by the local government in order to address the conditions being faced by those displaced from Fallujah and Ramadi, with more than 13,000 having been displaced during the past three days. They are now living in extremely difficult conditions in the western regions of Anbar. While the local government has allocated funds to the displaced families, it is clear that the allocated funds fall far short of providing for these people's needs. The Red Crescent, the Red Cross, civil institutions, and human rights organizations have distributed some food to the migrants but all those efforts fall far short of what is needed, given the ever-increasing number of migrants.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

13 May 2014

Since last night Fallujah has been the scene of indiscriminate shelling that is still going on, along with violent clashes on the city's outskirts, particularly in Al-Sichir. The random shelling has been directed at most of the city's residential districts. Initial reports indicate that at least 2 residents have been killed and 8 others have been wounded.
Military operations are also continuing in and around Al-Garma and Al-Saqlawiya where gunmen are still in place. Aerial reconnaissance is also continuous and many loud explosions can be heard in those areas. However, army and security forces have still not been able to penetrate into Fallujah as of today.

In Ramadi, intermittent and dispersed clashes are continuing in the city's southern sector where resistance has been fierce.

There has been a report of a governorate delegation comprising tribal sheikhs and local government officials having traveled to Baghdad where they met today with Nouri Al-Maliki, with the probability of a second meeting tomorrow Wednesday, in an attempt to find a solution to the Anbar crisis, particularly with regard to Fallujah. There are numerous indications of agreement on a short or medium-term ceasefire that would allow civilians to evacuate Fallujah where there have been many civilian deaths and injuries during the past few days.

More than 1,500 families have migrated from Fallujah to Hit and a further 1,000 families to Haditha townships in western Anbar where they are facing harsh living conditions in school buildings. They are in desperate need of the wherewithal to survive. The local government had ordered payments of 500,000 Dinars (approx. $430) to every displaced family but these funds are not enough to provide the needs for most of multi-member families. There are also difficulties in providing for the ever-increasing numbers of displaced families whose numbers have reached more than 600,000 people within and outside Anbar governorate who have been displaced from Fallujah and Ramadi.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

12 May 2014

Both Ramadi and Fallujah have been the scenes of military operations over the past three days.

Fallujah is now completely besieged and random shelling has been targeting most of its residential districts, as is the Al-Sichir area in the city's northern sector and Al-Nu'aimiya in the southern sector. The Fallujah General Hospital is reporting two women and two children being killed and 6 other residents wounded.

There are reports indicating that security forces have seized control of the areas around Amiriyat Al-Fallujah, south of Fallujah City. There are also plans to enter the city through the northeastern Al-Shuhada'a district.

An official source at the Anbar Governorate Council has announced that 60,000 families have migrated away from Fallujah; they are now on their way to the governorate's western regions that are more or less secure. The displaced families are not being provided with any care or assistance; they have broken into a number of mosques and schools where they are living under extremely severe conditions. The Anbar Council has ordered the disbursement of 500,000 Dinars (approx. 430 USD) to each of the families displaced from Fallujah. Making matters worse is the weather has worsened with the arrival of high winds bearing sand and dust that has severely curtailed visibility. The people of the western tons are doing what they can to shelter as many of the displaced families as possible, particularly in Ana, Rawa, Al-Baghdadi, Al-Rutba, and Al-Rutba townships.

In Ramadi, a military operation lasting many hours has engulfed the northeastern sector of the city, especially in Al-Khalidiya Island and its surrounding areas.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

11 May 2014

Today is the third day of the major military offensive in Fallujah; clashes and shelling are still continuing, with the military forces attempting to enter the city through the Al-Shuhada'a district. The latest casualty figures show that at least 2 people have been killed and 11 others wounded as of right now. Medical reports have emerged about the spread of cholera and bilharzias as a result of the absence of medical treatment and the profusion of garbage and waste matter.

We have witnessed the migration of hundreds of families since Friday (09 May) and the exodus has been going on through today, making their way to Hit, Haditha, Ana, and Rawa townships and elsewhere in the western Anbar regions. The sudden major migration has been the result of everyone having been taken by surprise by the military offensive, particularly since recent reports had indicated that there would not be any military action or incursion into Fallujah. The rush to evacuate has forced many families to flee without being able to carry any necessities, and they have been unable to find any means of transport, so they are making their way on foot for long distances to the outskirts of the city where they were able to find vehicles to transport them westward.

The commander of the 'Golden Division' announced today that his forces have seized control of Amiriyat Al-Fallujah, as well as the Al-Falahat, Al-Nassaf, Al-Bu Alwan, and Al-Halabcha areas that are outside and to the south of Fallujah. The general affirmed that at least 97 ISIL gunmen were killed and more than 10 of their vehicles were set ablaze, in addition to de-fusing numerous explosive devices and booby-trapped cars. The commander went on to say that plans are in place to overrun the Fallujah barrage that is still under the control of the gunmen.

Military sources have today revealed that more than 42,000 military personnel are taking part in the Fallujah offensive. This is a large number and is probably more than the numbers deployed throughout the governorate.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

10 May 2014

Fallujah - where a major offensive by army, police, air force, local police, and SWAT teams was launched yesterday - is today the scene of fierce clashes on four fronts: from the north at Al-Sichir, from the south at Al-Nu'aimiya, from the west at the Fallujah barrage, and from the area of Fallujah University. Very loud explosions can still be heard, violent clashes are still raging, and random shelling of many of the city's residential districts is ongoing, as well as the northern areas adjacent to Al-Garma township. As of this afternoon, at least 14 people have been killed and at least 47 have been wounded as a result. The Fallujah General Hospital was again hit this morning by mortar fire which resulted in structural damage but there were no injuries reported.

The exodus of Fallujah's residents is still underway on a large scale, even after the departure yesterday of more than 1,000 families. There is, of course no transportation and these people are making their way on foot. In an ugly incident yesterday, an entire family consisting of 4 children, their parents, their grandmother, and the driver who was a relative, were killed at the Al-Maftoul crossing when the car in which they were traveling was targeted by mortar fire.

Reports are still indicating that there is a direct confrontation between the gunmen and the security forces surrounding Fallujah, but security sources are confirming that they have not made any headway against the fierce resistance by the ever-present gunmen. The sources are indicating that more time will be given in order to wear down the gunmen, thus enabling the military forces to overcome the armed groups within the city.

Following the announcement by the leader of the Anbar Governorate Council, Sabah Karhout, that the Fallujah barrage has been re-taken by government forces and that the Euphrates water levels are receding, but there is no indication of that claim on the ground. Initially, the river water had been redirected toward the Tharthar Lake beyond Fallujah, but there are still large areas of what has become marshland in Abu Ghraib and areas south of Fallujah and southern Al-Nu'aimiya. At least 16,000 people have been displaced by the flooding and the quagmires that have resulted. The resulting health hazard and the evil-smells has already been reported as having made many people sick with diarrhea. The lack of action by official agencies has left many angered and desperate people. Meanwhile, flood waters are still making their way toward Baghdad, but some experts are saying that the water will be diverted away from the capital.

In Ramadi, there have been some clashes in the city's southern sector, and groups of gunmen are still trying to establish positions within the city, hoping to alleviate the pressure on the gunmen in Fallujah. However, the level of the clashes is far below what is going on in Fallujah. Although there might still be a peaceful solution being sought, it is the military option that appears to be the only viable option.

Other Anbar regions have also experienced some security developments: the Rawa township in the west, which has been relatively quiet all along, experienced the detonation of two explosive devices that targeted an Iraqi Army patrol, killing 4 of the security personnel.

Al-Garma, the township northeast of Fallujah, is still completely surrounded and the town is fully blockaded; yesterday was one of the most violent days it has experienced; a leaked video clip has shown the dropping of the exploding drums that were dropped from the air onto the town. The electricity distribution center and a number of schools have been targeted and major damage has been inflicted on government buildings in the town as well as civilian dwellings. 11 people have been reported injured in Al-Garma in the operations that are still going on since last night.

Friday, May 9, 2014

9 May 2014

A security  campaign in Fallujah which is still underway has involved a three-pronged incursion into the city: firstly, from the south in the area of Fallujah University, from the north in the Al-Sichir area, and from the east in the area of the main Fallujah - Baghdad highway. The operation involved random shelling, ground attacks, and air attacks on all three fronts. The fierce battles which are still raging have not resulted in any advances by the army and its supporting forces because of the fierce resistance by the gunmen. Initial estimates indicate that 16 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and 29 have been wounded as a result of the fighting.
There has been a mass exodus by hundreds of families from the city - on foot, because no vehicles are moving in the city - trying to reach more secure areas. Cell phone services have also been cut off, as have all means of communication as well as internet access.
Two areas outside Fallujah - Al-Fallahat and Al-Bu Alwan - have also been the scene of security operations carried out by SWAT teams and local police forces attempting to overrun the areas, but clashes and random shelling - which began last night and are still ongoing - have not yet decided the outcome.

So far there has been no official news or any statements by the security command in the governorate regarding the fighting raging in Fallujah.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

8 May 2014

In Fallujah late last night, incursions into the city were attempted on two fronts: one from the Al-Sichir area, and the other from Fallahat to the west of the city. The assaults were confronted by fierce resistance by the gunmen. There was also indiscriminate shelling lasting many hours targeted at a number of residential districts. Initial estimates indicate that 7 people were killed and 17 others were wounded in the shelling.

In Al-Garma northeast of Fallujah there were extremely violent clashes and a long period of random shelling on a number of the town's districts.

In Ramadi, a number of residential districts have been relatively calm, but clashes broke out late last night in the Al-Jumhuri district and the districts along Al-Mustawda'a Street; 4 people were killed and 5 were wounded, mostly civilians, during the clashes.

With regard to the flooding, the Anbar Governorate Council leader, Sabah Karhout, announced that a number of small dams and barrages have been re-opened and this has resulted in lowering the Euphrates water levels and the restoration of quasi-normal conditions in the areas that had been under water.

Regarding the elections, the various political entities have been calling for the conclusion of vote counting within the official time-frame, particularly in the case of the Anbar ballot boxes that were - for the first time - not counted in Anbar but were removed to Baghdad. There is concern about the absence of transparency and about the delay's possible resulting in forgery and vote-rigging. However, everyone is awaiting the announcement of the results within the next few days, so that the governorate can go ahead with changing its political map, if new faces emerge on the scene.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

7 May 2014

The latest developments here in Anbar: 9 mortar rounds have struck the Emergency Room at the Fallujah General Hospital: there were no casualties, but structural damage was heavy. This is the eighth time that mortar fire from unknown sources have hit the hospital which is the only facility that can receive those being injured in the military operations.
The shelling of the city since last night and into this afternoon has killed or injured 53 people, including 45 whose injuries vary in their severity. Most of the dead and injured are women and children.
The Fallujah General Hospital has announced the latest casualty totals since the beginning of the crisis fourth months ago up to today: more than 300 have been killed and 1,332 have been wounded as a result of the fighting.

Heavy clashes have been raging in the southwestern sector of Al-Garma, northeast of Fallujah, and a number of mortar rounds within the town.

South of Fallujah, in the town of Amiriyat Al-Fallujah, mortar fire has killed 2 people and wounded 4 others. Clashes are still ongoing in the area of the water plant in the town beginning with an attempt by gunmen to seize the plant. Strict security measures are in force at the location.

The flooding situation in southern Fallujah and in Abu Ghraib remains critical, with the gunmen still in control of the Fallujah barrage, and with flood waters inundating areas within the Baghdad city limits.

In the western Anbar township of Hit, two car bombs were detonated yesterday. A third attack, by a suicide bomber, targeted the main entrance of the Hit Hospital and killed 4 people and injured 7 others. The township has been completely surrounded and search operations are being carried out, after reports of more car bombs and suicide bombers preparing to launch attacks.

Ballots cast in last week's elections are still being counted at the Baghdad International Fair. Some political bloc representatives are naming alleged winners in the balloting, but the Election Commission in Anbar has denied these claims, stressing that there no final results yet. Everyone is awaiting the results in the hope that they will bring the sought-after changes to Anbar's representation in the Iraqi parliament.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

6 May 2014

In Fallujah, Iraq’s army forces tried overnight to enter the city held by insurgents from the west at Fallahat area. The troops faced stubborn resistance and the ensuing battle lasted over two hours. The army could not go into Fallujah. No death toll has been announced so far.     
The Iraqi military continued to shell neighborhoods in Fallujah. Four people were killed in the overnight and early morning (3 children and one woman) in addition to 11 injured (also women and children).  

Fierce clashes between Iraq’s security forces and armed groups took place in the southern parts of Fallujah, especially in Judhayfi, Ghazal, Mu’allimin, Wahda, and Risala neighborhoods.

Insurgents continue to control the water scheme on the Euphrates. The Iraqi military has reportedly called reinforcements in order to restore control over the Fallujah barrage. The flooding caused by the deliberate closure of the Fallujah barrage continues and water runs over 1.5 meters deep. The flooding has driven local residents out of their dwellings in addition to damaging the infrastructure and spoiling the harvest in areas around Abu Ghraib, Annaz, Zawbaa, Nasr, and Salam towns.   

Insurgents have attacked Amiriya township south of Fallujah today in an attempt to seize control over the Amiriya barrage, which is an auxiliary water structure attached to the Fallujah barrage regulating the water outflow into Lake Tharthar. Iraqi security forces have managed to repel the attack but there were 4 local policemen wounded. Observers say the flooding would have reached much higher levels if the sluice gates of the Amiriya barrage had been closed too. 

Ramadi city, the capital of Anbar province has been relatively calm for over a week, except for intermittent clashes in the southern sector of the city.

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 May 2014

The security situation in Ramadi and Fallujah has escalated today, particularly in Fallujah which yesterday experienced the most violent activity. There has been indiscriminate shelling that lasted many hours of a number of Fallujah's residential districts and the outlying areas to the north and south of the city. Final casualty figures indicate that 15 people were killed, most of whom were women and children, and 7 others were wounded by the shelling.

To the northeast, in Al-Garma, a large number of mortar strikes were targeted at most of the town, in addition to the indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment. Reports indicate that 2 people have been killed there and 9 others were wounded.

In Ramadi, violent clashes are still raging in the city's southern sector, while the central, northern, and northeastern sectors are relatively calm, as they have been for about one week.

There are still no reports of preliminary results in the April 30th elections; all of Anbar's ballot boxes have been transported to Baghdad, where political observers are observing the ballot-counting process. Some preliminary results are expected either today or tomorrow.

The flooding that has affected most of Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and Baghdad's western outskirts remains unchanged with the continued occupation of the Fallujah barrage by gunmen. There are reports of troop concentrations that might be ordered into Fallujah to bring it under government security forces' control.

A humanitarian report has criticized the role of the military, alleging that the army had obstructed the transport of those displaced from their homes, thus exposing them to gunfire. Although there has been no official government response, the report has been welcomed by the civil institutions and the public in general, despite the fact that security forces has denied the allegations. The situation, however, does indicate disorganization on the military's part, by exposing civilians to gunfire and shelling during the past four months.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

4 May 2014

Probably the most significant development has been the announcement by the Deputy leader of the Anbar Governorate Council, Saleh Al-Issawi, that the Security Committee, the armed forces, and the police have reclaimed total control of the Al-Saqlawiya township near Fallujah. Al-Issawi added that an emergency forces regiment has been formed and entrusted with the protection of civilians in the township. He expects that security forces will be able to regain control of the areas around Fallujah within the next few days.

Regarding the security situation within Fallujah, a General Hospital medical source announced today that at least 5 people have been killed and 17 have been wounded as a result of the shelling of a number of residential districts that began Saturday evening and continued into this afternoon.
Meanwhile Al-Garma, northeast of Fallujah, has been the scene of shelling and violent clashes since the early hours of this morning in a number of districts and at two vital bridges.

In Ramadi, clashes have resumed in the city's southern sector and its residential districts, albeit at a level somewhat lower than it has been over recent weeks.

The other important aspect is the flooding that has swept into the eastern regions of the governorate, especially in Fallujah and Abu Ghraib. Officials have said that gunmen are still controlling the Fallujah barrage, and that they are opening and closing the sluice gates at will. Reports indicate that at least 60 schools and three electric power stations have been flooded, as well as the gas processing plant, the grain elevator, and at least two other factories in Abu Ghraib.

All of the Anbar ballot boxes are now in Baghdad after having been collected from all the governorate's regions at the Ayn Al-Asad military base, and then transported to the Baghdad International Fair ground where they are under observation by representatives of the various political blocs. Sorting and counting of the ballots is still underway and no official preliminary results have been announced. Some of the political parties have announced some extrapolated results but these are not official.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

3 May 2014

The Election Commission announced today that more than 800 ballot boxes have been transported from the Ayn Al-Asad military base in Al-Baghdadi to the Baghdad International Fair under stringent observation by the Election Commission, amid fears expressed by the participating political parties and blocs. The fallout from the balloting process has been in the form of claims and accusations of fraud and forgery between the competing political entities; as of right now the Commission has announced that it has received at least 30 complaints with regard to vote-rigging, having allocated three days for such complaints to be submitted from the time of the end of voting. Everybody is now awaiting the outcome of the balloting; some sources have indicated that some of the smaller political entities which had played a minor role in previous governments have now won the majority of Anbar's seats, with the larger more influential blocs have had some setbacks. The final outcome will be announced either in the governorate or in Baghdad.

The security situation in both Ramadi and Fallujah is still difficult.
Last night, a car-bomb was detonated in central Ramadi, following several days of the most violent clashes to date. Some widely-dispersed but violent clashes are still underway in the city's southern sectors; some residential districts have been hit by both artillery and aerial bombardment, even in the districts that have enjoyed a period of relative calm following the re-opening of their police stations.

In Fallujah, a source at the Fallujah General Hospital announced that two civilians were killed and 7 were wounded as a result of the indiscriminate shelling that has targeted a number of the city's residential districts.

Meanwhile, observers of local developments are expecting that the continuing water flow will engulf half of Fallujah within the next few days unless a solution is found, now that the Euphrates flood waters have reached Abu Ghraib, causing widespread damage and destruction over vast tracts of agricultural land; at least 10,000 farmers and peasants have abandoned their fields and have sought refuge in other less-threatened areas. This critical situation come as a result of the gunmen's re-occupation of the Fallujah barrage and their closing of the sluice gates, resulting in some of Baghdad's outlying residential districts, as well as most of Fallujah being threatened by the ever-rising flood waters, and are expected to be under water within 10 days if the situation  remains as it is now.

Friday, May 2, 2014

2 May 2014

Everybody, especially the political blocs and parties, was surprised by the transport of the Anbar ballot boxes to the Baghdad International Fair (being used as the national balloting center). The boxes were collected at the Ayn Al-Asad military base in Al-Baghdadi (between Hit and Haditha) and then transported by air to Baghdad. This first-time-ever step has surprised and angered the participating political entities; they fear that this will facilitate the manipulation of the results, in the absence of observers and representatives of the parties and blocs, and has cast a shadow over the political scene in Anbar where everyone is awaiting the results, regardless of whatever is happening behind the scenes.

There were clashes and heavy shelling today in Fallujah and Al-Garma. Fallujah has been shelled by artillery fire and air strikes which has been broadened to include most of the city's residential districts. A casualty estimate announced a short time ago indicates one person being killed and 10 others, mainly women and children, were injured.

In Al-Garma, there were violent clashes and heavy shelling in a number of the town's districts. There have been some civilian casualties, but the violent military action is still underway as of this afternoon (Friday).

Meanwhile, official Anbar sources have stated today that there are secret negotiations in the Jordanian capital, Amman, between the leadership of the Military Council of Anbar Revolutionaries and high-level representatives of the central government. Sabah Karhout, the leader of the Anbar Governorate Council, said in a press release that the next few days might produce a way out of the crisis, and the return of displaced families to their homes.

Water levels of the Euphrates River have risen and the flooding has inundated vast tracts of agricultural fields in and around the township of Abu Ghraib and the western outskirts of Baghdad. We have learned that the Governor of Baghdad, Ali Al-Timimi has stated that the flooding is beyond the control of the local government. He has called on the relevant ministries to provide a solution, given the spread of the flooding toward the capital.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

1 May 2014

The Election Commission director here in Anbar, Khalid Rijab, announced this afternoon that the voting percentage in the governorate was 51%, not including Anbar citizens who cast their votes outside Iraq or the members of the security forces. When these votes are taken into account the overall percentage may be slightly higher.

The Commission has since this morning received at least 7 objections regarding the polling from representatives of the various entities and parties taking part in the elections.

The ballot boxes were collected and dispatched to Baghdad. Some doubts have been expressed in the capital with regard to the manner in which the ballots were transported from the governorate to the capital where the ballots are to be re-counted. This is the first time that the ballots have been sent to Baghdad, with the Commission explaining that the step has been taken to avoid unauthorized tampering, while some political blocs are claiming that the method would lead to fraud.

Some observer missions have indicated that the coalition led by the former Anbar governor, Qassem Al-Fahdawi, the Iraqi Unity Coalition led by the Defense Minister , and the Al-Muttahidoun bloc are leading in the balloting, with the other blocs receiving their shares of the remaining ballots.

On the security front, clashes have resumed in Ramadi and are still continuing, especially in the city's southern sector.

In Fallujah, a medical source has announced that 10 people have been wounded as a result of the indiscriminate shelling that had continued until midday today (Thursday).

In Al-Garma, a number of mortar shells have struck various parts of the town, wounding at least 4 people.

The overall situation in Ramadi is still being plagued by repeated security violations, in the aftermath of the general elections.