January 6, 2014
Al Qaeda gunmen seeking to form a radical Islamic state out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war are fighting hard to reconquer the province they once controlled in neighboring Iraq, stirring fears the conflict is exporting ever more instability.
Exploiting local grievances against Baghdad’s rule and buoyed by al Qaeda gains in Syria, the fighters have taken effective control of Anbar’s two main cities for the first time since U.S. occupation troops defeated them in 2006-07.
Their advance is ringing alarm bells in Washington: The United States has pledged to help Baghdad quell the militant surge in Anbar — although not with troops — to stabilize a province that saw the heaviest fighting of the U.S. occupation.
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