Iraq tribesmen clash with militants inside IS-held Fallujah

BAGHDAD: Deadly clashes erupted between Iraqi tribesmen and the Islamic State group inside militants bastion Fallujah on Friday, a sign their longstanding hold on the city west of Baghdad is weakening.

Fallujah is one of two Iraqi cities still controlled by IS, and a concerted and sustained uprising by local tribes could pose a significant threat to the estimated 300 to 400 militants inside it.

The Friday Fallujah shootout pitted fighters from multiple tribes against IS members known as Al-Hisba, who are responsible for enforcing religious strictures in the city.

“Clashes took place between sons of the Al-Mahamda and Al-Juraisat tribes against the Al-Hisba group,” Issa Sayir, the exiled official responsible for the Fallujah area, told AFP.

Sayir said the gunfight reflected tensions resulting from increasingly difficult living conditions caused by Fallujah’s isolation by the security forces.

Conditions in Fallujah are dire, with Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi saying that the situation “has reached a state of famine.” Sayir said the fighting began in Al-Jolan in northwest Fallujah, and spread to the Nazal area in the city centre and Al-Askari on its east side.