Iraq Military Retakes Areas West of Baghdad

Seizes Small Town Near Ramadi Dubbed 'Important' al-Qaeda Base

Iraqi military forces are hyping recent gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in the area along the frontier between Baghdad and the Anbar Province, saying they’ve taken back a whole district near Fallujah as well as the town of Albu Farraj.

Albu Farraj is on the outskirts of Ramadi, one of the major Anbar cities where control is being disputed between the government, AQI, and local tribal leaders. Officials claimed it was an “important base” for AQI in Anbar.

But despite those modest gains, the city of Fallujah remains more or less entirely under AQI control, as well as much of Ramadi. The rest of the Anbar Province is largely in open revolt, with Sunni tribal leaders opposed to the Maliki government’s heavy-handed treatment of them.

The gains aren’t entirely one-sided, either, as militants attacked the Transportation Ministry in Baghdad itself, killing several people and starting a brief hostage crisis.

Military officials say the hostage situation is now resolved, but the attack in Baghdad underscores that despite the military’s offensive in Anbar, AQI is not entirely on its heels in a defensive posture, and continues to look for opportunities to attack.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.