Fallujah – a city which was the scene of a bitter struggle between al-Qaeda backed militants and Iraqi forces – is now calm. Following a struggle lasting over a week it would appear life is returning to normal.
Insurgents and allied Sunni tribesman overran police stations and seized control of the city. A deal was brokered in which the militants withdrew and the army agreed to stay outside the city. The peace is holding, for the moment.
“The situation is good and the market is stable, all the shops are open and all the families who left are being asked to return to Fallujah,” said Mohamed Ahmed who lives in the city.
The city of Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, was the destination for many with the United Nations putting the number of families who fled at more than 11,000.
Monther Attalah explained why he and his family had left: “The army shells residential areas of the city. When the shells land they do so randomly and there are areas which are hit where there aren’t any militants present. The shells land on families who have caused no trouble. The people can’t stay in their houses so we decided to flee.”
The calm of Arbil is in stark contrast to events in Baghdad 300 kilometres to the south where 23 army recruits were killed in a suicide bomb attack on Thursday.