Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, said Monday area tribes and local residents should work to regain control over parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province. Iraqi military spokesman Gen. Mohammad al-Askari said Fallujah, one of the largest cities in the province, is in the hands of fighters loyal to al-Qaida.
"Al-Qaida is in control of Fallujah and appointed a government there," he was quoted by al-Arabiya as saying Monday. "There is no police and no order there other than those of al-Qaida."
U.S. forces twice battled terrorists in Fallujah at the height of the insurgency that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last weekend the U.S. military would support their Iraqi counterparts but there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Monday spoke with both Maliki and Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, expressing U.S. support and praising Iraqi government efforts to work with tribal leaders in Anbar.
Hugh Robertson, British minister for the Middle East, said he was "extremely concerned" about violence.
"The British government will stand alongside the Iraqi government in combating this threat and other terrorist threats across the region," he said in a statement Monday.