More than 13,000 families have been evacuated from areas of Iraq no longer under government control, including the city of Fallujah. The Al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIS has gained control of strategic swathes of the country, actively seeking to create divisions among jihadist Syrian rebel groups. ISIS has earned a reputation for brutality, including against fellow jihadists.
Though the Iraqi government had originally indicated its plans to attack Fallujah to regain control, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has delayed any such military assault. He said he hoped local tribes and family groups would be able to force out the jihadist militants, resulting in less bloodshed in a city that has seen too much over the past decade.
Fallujah saw a large amount of fighting during the Iraq war, when it was virtually laid to ruin. Iraq as a whole registered the highest levels of violence in 2013 since 2008, blamed at least in part on spillover from the war in Syria.