Nightly News   |  January 06, 2014

Fallujah Becomes al Qaeda Battleground

The fighting has started up again in Iraq where al Qaeda forces may have seized control of Fallujah while also threatening another city. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

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

>>> in iraq , more than 32,000 came home wounded and so many will bear the scars of that war for the rest of their lives. u.s. fighting forces are gone from iraq , but as so many predicted when president bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again. we all learned about the city of fallujah during the war. well, now there are reports that al- qaeda forces may have seized control of that city will threatening another. our report on all of it tonight from nbc's ayman mohyeldin.

>> reporter: in broad daylight on the streets of fallujah , fighters linked to al- qaeda boldly hold their weapons, warning they will punish anyone who sides with iraq 's shiite-dominated government. for days, government forces have been fighting the sunni militants, killing them in forces as they flee in terror, not far from fallujah , they are taking up position to fight against the militants who now control much of the city. fallujah , the same city u.s. troops fought and died to control in 2004 . seven years after that battle, the last u.s. combat troops left iraq .

>> this is an historic moment. a war is ending, a new day is upon us .

>> reporter: but some warned the u.s. withdrawal left a security vacuum.

>> the united states shed great blood and treasure to secure iraq . to basically get rid of al- qaeda . and almost now, two years, al- qaeda is back.

>> reporter: back and gaining momentum. the u.s. says it won't be sending in troops again.

>> this is their fight, but we're going to help them in their fight.

>> reporter: help in the form of military hardware, drones and missiles.

>> we're accelerating our military help as early as this spring.

>> reporter: hopefully that will be enough to turn the tide. now, the conflict is not just about the battle inside iraq , this is obviously really focused on the conflict in neighboring syria , and what happens in syria is already spilling into neighboring countries such as lebanon and turkey. and at the core of it are two regional major powers , iran and syria , and we're seeing them fighting in many areas in this neighborhood.

>> ayman mohyeldin, back from the field, appreciate it as always.