Iraqi MP: govt using ‘explosive barrels’ in Anbar

Khaled al-Alwani, a parliamentarian from Anbar, urged for a political solution as to end unrest in the western province

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An Iraqi parliamentarian from the restive province of Anbar has accused the government of using Syrian civil war-style explosive barrel bombs in its battle against militants in the country’s western region.

“The Iraqi forces are using explosive barrels in Anbar, similar to Syria,” Khaled al-Alwani told Al Arabiya TV Channel’s correspondent in Iraq, describing the tactic as “crimes against humanity.”

Syrian activists have long accused the government of Bashar al-Assad of striking rebel-strongholds with explosive barrel bombs.

Alwani further accused the Iraqi government of bribing tribal sheikhs in the Sunni province to kill “sons of Fallujah and Anbar.”

Militants, many of from the al-Qaeda-breakaway group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), overran Fallujah and parts of Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, at the beginning of the year, taking advantage of tensions between the Sunni community, which dominates Anbar, and the Shiite-led central government.

Now, people avoid the highway, which runs near the flashpoint Anbar cities of Fallujah and Anbar, fearing militant checkpoints or clashes, the Associated Press reported.

Urging for a solution

However, Alwani dismissed the scenario presented by the government that it was fighting ISIS, and urged for a political and not a military solution to solve the problem.

Since late 2012, demonstrations broke out in Anbar, with demonstrators calling for a more inclusive government, although Maliki’s administration violently quashed the protests.

Analysts and diplomats also say widespread anger in the minority Sunni Arab community over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities has played a major role in the violence.

Another parliamentarian from Anbar Taha Abdulghani also urged for the end of the military operation in the province, and called on the government to offer security and sheltering for civilians who fled the clashes.

On Saturday, at least 16 people were been killed after a shell hit Fallujah.

Security forces have launched an operation to retake areas near Fallujah, which has been held by anti-government fighters for more than four months.

Iraqi troops have struggled all year to regain territory in Anbar province from the militants.

In a related story, officers and a morgue employee said militants attacked a military base in north Iraq, kidnapped 20 soldiers and later shot them dead in the northern province of Mosul.

Militants opposed to the Iraqi government frequently target members of the security forces, but it is rare for such a large number of soldiers to be kidnapped at once, especially from a military position.

(With the Associated Press and AFP)

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