BAGHDAD, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Sporadic clashes between tribesmen backed by security forces and the al-Qaida militants continued in the western Iraqi province of Anbar on Thursday, as concerns rise about worsening humanitarian crisis in the city of Fallujah, a police and an official said.
Fierce clashes continued in the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, when hundreds of tribesmen and local police chased groups of al-Qaida militants in separate districts in the city, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
Most of the tribesmen were government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group members, led by Ahmed Abu Risha, who took part in the anti- government protests by the Sunni community during the past year but turned back to cooperate with the government after al-Qaida militants entered Anbar in the past few days, the source said.
Dozens of families abandoned their homes in restive districts and took shelter in safer areas in Ramadi after al-Qaida militants took control of a cement factory and nearby districts in the east, while the tribesmen backed by the military helicopters tried to push them out of the city, the source said.
Separately, a counter-terrorism force has captured four of al- Qaida leaders during an operation on Thursday morning at the edges of Anbar province, the Iraqiya state-run channel reported.
Meanwhile, normal life is gradually returning to the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, as the provisional city council, which has been established to supervise the return of normality, demanded humanitarian aids for the citizens.
"Life has largely returned to normal. All the government institutions including the banks have returned to operation after 10 days of closure," Adnan al-Jumaili, the council member told reporters.
"Fallujah mainly needs food and fuel, in addition to the urgent need of aids to those families who left the city and those who returned recently," Jumaili said.
Jumaili confirmed that Fallujah is under full control of the tribesmen and the local police, and that the Iraqi army forces are in the east and north of the city.
On Wednesday, the UN warned that the humanitarian situation was critical in Anbar province, which had been witnessing violent clashes these days.
"The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if a safe passage can be ensured," Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, said in a statement.
The situation in Fallujah was particularly critical as its stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines were running out, Mladenov said, adding that a preliminary assessment showed over 5, 000 families had sought refuge in the neighboring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere.
In the meantime, an official from the Iraqi Red Crescent told reporters Wednesday that up to 13,000 families had fled Fallujah during the past few days due to fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December.
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.