Baghdad ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Militants linked to al Qaeda control at least half of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The news was given by an official from the Ministry of the Interior and witnesses on the ground, confirming that the country is likely to return to the levels of violence of 2007 and 2008.
"Half of Fallujah - the official said - is in the hands of the ' Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (a group linked to Al Qaeda ) and the other half is controlled by armed tribals." Witnesses speak of checkpoints and armed gangs in pickup trucks that patrol the city.
The latest episode reflects the recent increase in violence , which is a potentially dangerous trend that threatens to bring the mortality levels to those of 2007 and beginning of 2008. In the latter year, the estimates of civilian casualties compiled by the United Nations marked the peak of nearly 1,100 killings per month. Figures then dropped to an average of about 254 victims per month in 2009 and fell again to 231 in 2011.
The figures, unfortunately, have increased once again in 2012 . Also according to UN data , the civilian deaths in Iraq in that year reported the data at the highest levels since 2009. The UN estimates that 3,238 civilians were killed in 2012, or an average of 270 per month. This trend continued upward in 2013. Civilian casualties estimated in the past year have more than doubled , with an estimated 319 civilian deaths in January, which rose to 887 , 852 and 565 in the months of September, October and November.
Multiple factors are causing the increase in violence in Iraq , ranging from reactions to forms of political sectarianism to the impact of civil war in Syria, which is adding to the increase of the influence of jihadist groups and Al Qaeda.