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Residents return to Fallujah as UN backs Iraq fight

Published on Jan 11, 2014 5:50 PM

RAMADI, Iraq (AFP) - Residents of a militant-held city on Baghdad's doorstep began slowly returning on Saturday amid a tense calm as the UN Security Council backed Iraq's efforts against Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

Most businesses reopened in Fallujah and government security operations in nearby areas were put on hold after heavy overnight rain restricted the use of aircraft and heavy vehicles, a day after police and tribesmen retook militant-held areas in the nearby Anbar provincial capital Ramadi.

Gunmen seized all of Fallujah, just 60 kilometres from Baghdad, and parts of Ramadi last week, the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

Both cities lie in Anbar province, a sprawling desert region that borders Syria where US and Iraqi officials have warned for months that jihadists have been able to establish training camps and rear bases.

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