Families fleeing the violence in the Iraqi cities of Falluja and Ramadi wait at a checkpoint in Ein Tamarm, a town some 40 km (25 miles) west of Kerbala, January 6, 2014.REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed
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Iraqi troops will delay assaulting the militant-held city of Fallujah, an officer said Tuesday, citing fear of civilian casualties, as fighting and missile strikes in nearby Ramadi killed 29 people.Overnight, security forces and allied tribesmen sought to retake south Ramadi from fighters loyal to Al-Qaeda-linked group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the assault failed.Both Ramadi and Fallujah were insurgent strongholds in the years after 2003, and Fallujah was the target of two major assaults in which US forces saw some of their heaviest fighting since the Vietnam War.They eventually wrested back control of Anbar from militants, with the support of Sunni Arab tribesmen who formed the Sahwa (Awakening) militias, which allied with US troops against Al-Qaeda from late 2006 .But two years after US forces withdrew from Iraq, Sunni militants have regained strength, bolstered by the war in neighbouring Syria and widespread Sunni Arab anger with the central government.
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