aqi artillery pounding the the city of Fallujah for a second day Tuesday in an effort to dislodge Islamic State fighters. Fallujah just 30 miles from the capital Baghdad. Ned Parker was Reuter's Baghdad bureau chief up until lat year, and says the battle for Fallujah goes to the core of the ethnic divisions in Iraq.
>> Since 2003, Fallujah has been a bastion of Sunni rebellion, first against the US occupation, and then later against the Shiite led government in Baghdad. The Sunni population has been deeply suspicious of the post Saddam Hussein order in Iraq. And again as in a decade ago, what was initially a insurgency has quickly been hijacked by the most ruthless revolutionary radical elements, al Qaeda in Iraq, now called Islamic State in Iraq, which is a brutal force.
It's brutal to the population that lives inside of Fallujah. The problem is, is that until now many Sunnis do not yet see a real alternative for them within the new Iraqi order where their rights will be protected, and as long as that remains the case, whether it's called Islamic State in Iraq or another name, you'll see radical armed forces revolting against the government in Baghdad.
>> An Iraqi push to retake the city two years ago failed, but recent suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad blamed on ISIS ramped up pressure on the government to do something about the nearby ISIS stronghold. United Nations and the Red Cross warning large numbers of civilians are at risk due to the shellings and shortages of food and water.
Video posted to social media shows ISIS militants refuting Iraqi government claims to have made progress retaking the city.
an effort to tamp down ethnic tensions, the Iraqi government says Shiite militias fighting against Islamic State would be restricted from operating in the Sunni stronghold.