The association, which consists of 13 clerics and a 55-strong consultative council made up of scholars and community leaders, oversees nearly 3000 mosques across Iraq.

 

One of its main objectives is to create an atmosphere free of sectarianism so that Iraqis can live as "one people in a united country", said its public relations director Abd Al-Salam al-Qubaisi.

 

"Our relations with Shia clerics are excellent and we stay in contact," he said of relations with Iraq's other major Muslim sect.

The group has mediated in abduction cases in Iraq and secured the release of a number of foreigners.

 

It also brokered a truce between fighters and US troops in Falluja after a marine attack in April.


Genocide
 

The AMS has negotiated the
release of a number of foreigners

The AMS is opposed to the US occupation of Iraq, and earlier this month said the American bombardment of Falluja and Tal Afar was "genocide".

 

Al-Qubaisi said the committee would not take part in the elections set for January next year.

 

"We are against any act supportive of the occupation. It is impossible that we [association members] put ourselves forward for the elections as we are not running after posts."