BAGHDAD, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki said Tuesday that the army will withdraw from the cities in Anbar but will continue its manhunt for al-Qaida militants in the desert area of the western province.
In a statement, Maliki said: "the armed forces will continue its mission (against Qaida) but will leave the administration of the cities to local and federal police."
He promised Anbar's people that his government will repair vital highway damaged by al-Qaida bombings and open international borders for the movement of passengers and goods.
Maliki also called on politicians to take "wise stances" and to revoke their calls to withdraw from the parliament and the government.
His comments are seen as a bid to defuse the discontent that followed a security force operation to dismantle a sit-in camp of Sunnis near Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar, where clashes erupted between the force and the demonstrators and at least 10 people were killed and dozens of others wounded.
Late on Monday, 44 members of Iraq's parliament from the Sunni Motahidoon (United) Alliance announced their resignation to protest the government's latest moves on Sunni Arabs.
The Sunni lawmakers also demanded the withdrawal of the army from cities in Anbar and the release of Ahmad al-Alwani, a Sunni lawmaker who was arrested on Saturday.
Tension has been running high in the Sunni heartland of Anbar after the Iraqi security forces captured the Sunni Arab tribal leader Ahmad al-Alwani and killed his brother. Al-Alwani is also a lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament.
The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalizing them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.
Alwani is one of the outspoken leading figures in the anti- government protests. Some opponent lawmakers have been calling for the lifting of his immunity, but their demand was rejected by the parliament.
The security forces claimed that they captured Alwani because he shot dead two soldiers during the arrest operation against his brother, who died during the clash.
According to the Iraqi constitution, members of parliament cannot be arrested unless their immunity is lifted or they are caught in flagrante delicto in the act of committing a felony.