Nightly News   |  January 05, 2014

Al Qaeda-linked Insurgents Overrun Two Cities

The Iraqi military is fighting to regain control in Ramadi and Fallujah after insurgents captured large areas of the cities. NBC’s Duncan Golestani reports.

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>>> iraq now that al qaeda linked fighters have overrun two key cities in anbar province . fallujah and ramadi. the iraqi government is facing a major test as it forces to regain control of those cities. now the latest.

>> reporter: for nearly a week there have been clashes in iraq 's anbar province . the iraqi military struggling to regain control, fighting street by street. iraqi forces using their air power to attack the infamous radicals. but those same al qaeda linked militants boast they're also overrunning the city of fallujah . armed men claimed to have destroyed government vehicles. the two cities are mainly soinl-muslim. and the shiite dominated government in baghdad. they say they'll punish those who are linked to the sectarian government. after the 2003 u.s.-led invasion of iraq , fallujah was the center of the insurgency. american troops fought hard to rout out extremists. now it is up to the iraqi government .

>> the iraqis can retake fallujah but they'll have to commit a lot of resources to do it and even more resources to hold on to it.

>> reporter: the iraqi prime minister says there will be no retreat until they have eliminated the militants.

>> this is a fight that belongs to the iraqis. that is exactly what the president ask the world decided some time ago when we left iraq . so we are not obviously contemplating returning. we're not contemplating putting boots on the ground . this is their fight.

>> reporter: the al qaeda group is trying to create a sunni strong hold that would stretch across iraq and into syria. more bombings today in the capital of baghdad. this is shaping up to be another deadly year in iraq . just this week the united nations reported 2013 the highest death