BAGHDAD (AFP) - Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have departed Iraq's Fallujah and it is now in the hands of Sunni tribesmen, a senior tribal sheikh said on Monday.
"There is no ISIL in the city," Sheikh Ali al-Hammad said, referring to Al-Qaeda-linked group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
"They all left." "The gunmen inside are from the sons of the tribes, and they are here to defend" the city, he said, without elaborating.
Fallujah has been out of government control for days, and Iraqi officials have said that ISIL militants are holding the city.
Gunmen have also seized parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, farther west.
It is the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the bloody insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.