Alex Witt   |  January 04, 2014

Al Qaeda fighters seize Fallujah

Alex Witt talks to NBC’s Duncan Golestani about the Al Qaeda militants who have seized the city of Fallujah and large portions of Ramadi in Iraq.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> of iraq . al qaeda fighters have reportedly seized the city of fallujah and raised their flag atop government buildings in some of the worst fighting since american troops left the country two years ago. u.s. intelligence officials call the situation extremely dire and said the border between iraq is decimated now between syria . it is now meaningless, in fact. joining me with the story is duncan golestani. i want to get to the latest. you're hearing how much ground the militants hold now. good afternoon. well, the thing is it's a confusing picture coming out of these areas at the moment because the intense fighting is continuing. in fa fallujahia, about a quarter of the city remains under control of militants. witnesses said the northern and eastern parts of the city were still under militant control. the fighting there has been really, really intense. it's difficult to put a number on the dead. but there have been scores of casualties and reports of shortages of food and fuel because the residents there have had to take cover for the best part of a week. this week is really for the first time in years that insurgents have taken control of such important territory. and this all started when iraqi police broke up a sunni protest camp on monday at least 13 people were killed. in those clashes. the iraqi government which is largely shiites has been struggling to contain discontent among the sunni minority. and it really flared, has really flared over the last year on wednesday, the united nations said at least 7,800 civilians and more than 1,000 members of the security forces have been killed in 2013 . we really are seeing some of the worst violence since the end of the iraq war .

>> duncan , can you connect this to the war in syria ?

>> yeah, sure. well, this group that is affiliated al qaeda islamic state of iraq has been increasing its its influence over the province there, which borders on to syria . what they want to do is try and create a sunni muslim state that straddles both syria and iraq . it's just yet another sign that the civil war in syria is spilling over into iraq and threatening the very, very delicate sectarian balance that iraq has. alex?

>> okay. duncan golestani with the heads-up from london. thank you so much.