In a televised address on Wednesday, Nuri al-Maliki also thanked
the international community for its support in the fight against al
Qaeda and urged the group's members and supporters to surrender,
The United States said earlier this week it would fast-track
deliveries of military hardware, including drones and missiles, to
Iraq, but ruled out sending back troops two years after Washington
ended nearly a decade of occupation.
"The support ... is giving us the confidence that we are moving on
the right course and that the result will be clear and decisive:
uprooting this corrupted organization," Mali said on state
"We will continue this fight because we believe that al Qaeda and
its allies represent evil."
Fighters from the al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant (IS), which is also active across the border in Syria,
overran police stations in Falluja and another city in Iraq's
western Unbar province last week.
The army deployed more tanks and artillery around Falluja on Tuesday
as local leaders tried to persuade militants to leave in order to
avert an impending offensive that has echoes of U.S. assaults on the
same city in 2004.
"We don't want this city to suffer and we will not use force, as
long as the tribes announce their readiness to confront al Qaeda and
expel it," Mali said.
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During the insurgency that raged in Unbar following the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq in 2003, local tribes eventually rose up against al
Qaeda and routed the group in what came to be known as the
But the Islamists have been regaining ground in Unbar over the past
year, with the stated aim of creating a Sunni religious state
straddling the border into Syria's rebel-held eastern desert
Mali described the group's pledge to retake territory it lost to
U.S. troops as a "dream of Satan" and said the militants were intent
on delaying elections scheduled for April this year.
"They (al Qaeda) seek to totally cripple the political process and
to hamper the movement of rebuilding not only in Iraq but the entire
region," he said.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Isabel Coles;
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