Jan. 4 - Iraqi army tries to dislodge Qaeda from Falluja. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Rebels linked to al Qaeda say they have taken control of the international Fulluja highway in Iraq. The city of Falluja has been held by militants linked to al Qaeda since Monday. Video posted online -- which can not be independently verified -- purports to be the work of a group calling itself "The Greatest Iraqi Revolution." A voice can be heard saying those vehicles belong to Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki. A man says "We are going to finish them. We will destroy them." The battle for control of Falluja went into the night as the Iraqi army shelled the city with mortar bombs. This week's seizure of territory in Falluja was the first time in years that Sunni insurgents had taken effective control one of the region's most important cities and held their positions for days. Tension has been running high since Iraqi police broke up a Sunni protest camp on Monday. A move Maliki defended Saturday. (SOUNDBITE) (ARABIC) NURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQ'S PM, SAYING: "We did what we had to do, and we broke up this camp, the camp of sedition, and this is the reason behind this wave of violence that was escalated by the gangsters that were gathering underground to build an independent state in al-Anbar Falluja was the site of tense fighting after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It was also a flash point of sectarian tensions. Those tensions have been fanned by spillover from the Syrian civil war, raising fears of return to the bloodshed witnessed in 2006 and 2007.