BAGHDAD: Iraq’s electoral commission said Tuesday that voting for the upcoming parliamentary elections would not take place in parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where 25 militants were killed in the latest clashes between security forces and ISIS fighters.
Since late December, the western Anbar province has seen fierce fighting between government troops and allied tribal paramilitaries on one side, and militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on the other.
ISIS fighters have seized and continue to hold parts of the provincial
capital, Ramadi, as well as almost all of the nearby city of Fallujah.
The exclusion of major Sunni cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah – where the majority of the fighting has occurred – from the April 30 election could deepen Sunni fears of being marginalized by the country’s Shiite majority.
In a press conference in Baghdad, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Muqdad al-Shuraifi, said the “commission cannot send its employees and balloting-related equipment, as well as logistics, to the areas where security operations are underway.”
He did not specifically name the areas seized by the militants, but assured families displaced by the fighting that they would be allowed to vote in areas deemed to be safe.
Soldiers killed 25 ISIS fighters in an ambush southwest of Baghdad Tuesday, security spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said. He claimed the fighters had been planning to attack an army base.