(BAGHDAD) — There were more signs of Iraq’s security deterioration Wednesday as the United Nations reported that upwards of 300,000 people have been dislodged from their homes in the volatile western province of Anbar.
Residents have been displaced by militants taking over most of the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The insurgents are mostly from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has been responsible for the spike in violence across Iraq since last year.
Although the central government in Baghdad has vowed to take back the Anbar cities, the military and local tribesman have found it difficult to oust the militants without turning Fallujah and Ramadi into full-fledged battlegrounds.
Meanwhile, the 300,000 displaced Iraqis represent the largest refugee crisis in the country since the height of the sectarian violence that spanned 2006 to 2008.
As many as 1.1 million Iraqis have still not returned to their homes since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.
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Sugam Pokharel and Tim Hume, CNN
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN