Islamic Insurgents Retake Strategic Cities in Iraq

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki calls for citizens to expel militants who have seized Fallujah, parts of Ramadi.
3:00 | 01/06/14

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Transcript for Islamic Insurgents Retake Strategic Cities in Iraq
This is a special -- And then Cutler -- New York where this ABC news digital special report nearly eleven years after the US first invaded Iraq. And more than two since President Obama declared the war there at its end the fight for Iraq. Is as deadly as ever Islamic militant groups some with ties to al-Qaeda -- taking control of Fallujah just an hour west of Baghdad. And launch attacks in nearby ramadi earlier today white house Press Secretary Jay -- rejected the idea that a continued American presence in Iraq. Could've prevented this situation. Broadly because the context of some of the stories you're mentioning. Is that somehow. -- greater American presence. Troops on the ground would. Results in a different dynamic and obviously it's hard to prove a negative but as I said earlier there were. There was -- great deal of sectarian conflict. In Iraq when. Tens of thousands more than a 100000 US troops were on the ground. So I think that demonstrates. Did. Are 101000 troops back then by the surge that -- -- -- I think it forces creep back. Well again the fact of the matter is when -- 150000 US troops on the ground it was a great deal of sectarian violence in Iraq. Increased attention on a more dangerous situation in -- -- So for more on that I want to go to our chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran with some of the details on what we've been hearing and -- Terry we've heard a lot about al-Qaeda resurgence in Iraq how closely -- other fires in Fallujah. To the al-Qaeda Central Command. Then that that is a question that the United States in the Iraqi governor paying close attention to there isn't really the same kind of Central Command of al-Qaeda. Today that there was back in 2001 or really even back in 2008 the drone war that the Obama administration. Has been fighting in Pakistan has really harmed al-Qaeda Central Command what you have now. Is -- network. That is driven by ideology. By a shared interest in a vision of Islamist state throughout the world. They are coordinated. To an extent but there are independent actors they share this. For Roche is jihadist ideology and that's really what's at work in Fallujah right now in that -- vacuum that has been. Opened up with the collapse in security in Iraq. Almost an amorphous force that seems to be growing but you know the US fought perhaps its toughest fight. In the Iraq war in Fallujah a decade ago what is it about the city that is so killing two insurgents. Well it was known as the city of mosques before those ferocious battles that the US Marines fought in 2004 they destroyed much of the city those battles. It did it says city. Of tribes as well Sony -- so this is the heartland. Of Sunni Iraq right now the government in Baghdad. Is a Shiite led government and so Fallujah which -- always been hard. For the central government to control Saddam Hussein. Had trouble with Fallujah is now. Kind of the wild west once again as it was back in 2003 and 2004. And one of the things that happened -- that is happening is that the war in next door Syria that horrible bloody civil war where al-Qaeda fighters. Are in the vanguard of the rebel forces trying to overthrow the government about -- -- That's spilling over freely into Iraq now and what you're seeing really. Is one war in -- sense in Iraq in Syria all the way to Lebanon to Beirut where -- been some terrible bombings this. Tectonic friction between Sunnis and Shiites Fallujah right now -- these days is ground zero of that big big war in the Middle East. We just heard from the white house Press Secretary Jay Carney being asked about hypothetically if in fact there was a stronger US presence there the situation. Would be what it is today. But what is secretary of state John Kerry what does he said about American intervention in fact we know what kind of -- that the US might offer to the prime minister -- now. Well secretary of state Kerry has said the United States stands ready to help but no boots on the ground the American public has absolutely no appetite for going back into Iraq and frankly the Iraqi public has no appetite to have American troops back. What the United States can do it is doing providing intelligence. More weaponry hellfire missiles and such and will. Try to broker some kind of political movement in. Baghdad one of the problems that's happening. Is that the government of Nouri Al-Maliki the prime minister there. Has been perceived by -- to -- basically discriminating against the Sunni minority in Iraq. So -- that sectarian conflict there's no question Jay Carney. You know dodging the question there. The US troops in Iraq kept a lid on this. Sectarian. Bloodshed in Iraq after the surge that George W. Bush president George W. Bush ordered. There was peace and pollution they started -- rebuilding process but with the last US troops leaving Iraq in 2011. -- chaos crept back in slowly. And Baghdad the government in Baghdad really did nothing to stop -- that chaos now triumphant. In Fallujah for the time being. Terry you talked about the influence that Syria has had on this situation and as we see as you pointed out it started to bleed into Lebanon. What about Iran's entanglement there is it hurting the Shiite Iraqi Government. Yeah that's a great question I was in Iraq four times during the course of the war and what I heard often. From ordinary Sunnis on the streets of Baghdad and ramadi and other places and Mosul was that. The Shiite government of Nouri Al-Maliki was up puppet of Iran they didn't trust. Now lucky they didn't trust that government. And one of the problems is that that government has done nothing to demonstrate its independence from Iran. To demonstrate and build trust. With the Sunni population. One of the things that's happening is that collapse in confidence. In the capability of governing Iraq as one country. If you Terry if you can -- could tell me about a man named Abu Bakar of by Gotti it's out bag daddy. A rebel commander now in Syria but a key figure right for al-Qaeda in Iraq. Absolutely -- he is a great example of what's happening there. He is a Baghdad. Who took over al-Qaeda in Iraq. After the killing -- -- -- -- you remember that the infamous behead her. Of Anbar Province bag daddy this guy took over al-Qaeda. The United States. With the help of Sunni tribes in that part of Iraq put down al-Qaeda pacify that area there was some rebuilding going on. And this guy bag daddy went over to Syria. To start fighting in that war he now runs something. Called the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. His name and the aim of al-Qaeda militants now in Fallujah and in Syria is to make Warren. Al-Qaeda run state somewhere across the border there between Iraq and Syria a long. -- defend double border really through the desert that kind of enter. Action between the war in Syria and the bloodshed in Iraq is really the main security problem right now in Iraq. And it shows no signs of abating in fact. How about -- is a guy who is making money and gaining power in both countries and Fallujah the fall of Fallujah to al-Qaeda it. Led militants is an example of what is happening there growing prominence for one. Person who is now and the center or is turning to become part of the center of this. Intense situation. ABC news chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran Terry thank you for the and so we certainly appreciate that. Of course for all the latest on the fight for a rock from deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad -- -- -- a showdown in Fallujah. Stay right here on It's been an ABC news digital special report. I'm -- Cutler in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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