Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sunni insurgent group agrees to cease-fire with al-Qaida

Iraq New Monitor reports that a Sunni insurgent group said Wednesday it has reached a cease-fire with al-Qaida in Iraq. The claim comes as the conflict between the Islamic Army in Iraq and al-Qaida in Iraq, which is also Sunni, has intensified in recent months. Last week, the two groups were believed to have clashed in the Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah.
"This agreement is based on a cease-fire between the two parties that bans all armed acts and all other activities that could cause attrition," Ibrahim al-Shimmari, spokesman for the Islamic Army in Iraq, told Al-Jazeera television in a telephone interview. "The armistice started at dawn Wednesday."
Al-Jazeera showed a copy of the cease-fire, which stipulated "halting all escalation, including media" and "establishing a judicial committee on pending issues between the two parties." Al-Shimmari said the cease-fire "aims to safeguard Islamic blood and not give a chance to Iraq's enemies from America and Iran." "We hope that relations between the Islamic Army and al-Qaida return to the early days of jihad (holy struggle) when we were very close to those brothers," al-Shimmari added.
Divisions among Iraq's extremists became more apparent two months ago when Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who heads the al-Qaida front group Islamic State in Iraq, urged militants in an audiotape to stop fighting one another and unite against American forces. He told rival groups he wanted to end their disagreements and vowed to punish any of his fighters who kill other militants.
The Islamic State in Iraq announced a 10-member shadow government "Cabinet" in April as an alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The conflict came to a head when al-Shimmari said he did not recognize al-Qaida's claim to a state. He told Al-Jazeera television in an April interview that there could be no state "under crusader occupation." In an interview with Al-Jazeera in April, al-Shimmari accused al-Qaida of killing 30 members of the Islamic Army.