Iraq fighters restore al-Qaeda ties

Islamic Army in Iraq mends fences with al-Qaeda after differences.


    The Islamic Army in Iraq has launched many
    attacks on US forces in the country
    The Islamic Army in Iraq is one of the strongest and best-organised Sunni armed groups, responsible for dozens of attacks on American forces in Iraq.


    Lately it has been at odds with al-Qaeda, a group it has at times fought alongside.


    Now - ominously for Washington – both groups appear to have settled their differences.


    In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, a spokesman for the Islamic Army said the new agreement was aimed at stopping more Muslim blood from being spilled.


    "The truce entered into force at dawn on Wednesday," Ibrahim al-Shamary said.


    "This was after a group of the finest Muslim clerics contacted the two parties in order to reach a truce to preserve the Muslims' blood and to avoid that our enemies rejoice from us fighting among each other."


    Previous split


    A few months ago, the Islamic Army, widely seen as an Iraqi resistance group, had called on al-Qaeda to refrain from killing civilians.


    We hope that the relationship between us and al-Qaeda will return back to the first days of jihad [struggle]

    The group went as far as asking Osama Bin Laden to use his influence over his men in Iraq.


    The Islamic Army's fighters are mostly Iraqi and their stated aim is to expel any foreign influence – whether US or Iranian - from the country.


    Members of both armed groups were lately involved in clashes in west Baghdad, indicating that, on the ground at least, the gap had widened.


    But now it seems there is a desire to work together again.


    "We hope that the relationship between us and al-Qaeda will return back to the first days of jihad [struggle], when we were very close to these brothers," says al-Shamary, referring to a time when both groups joined arms in a relentless campaign against US troops.


    Returning to those days could lead to a sharp increase in American casualties in Iraq.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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