IRAQ: BAATHISTS VS ZARQAWI
al Qaeda’s Iraqi chief, Abu Musab al Zarqawi decided he could not let this "defection" from the Iraqi Sunni insurgent camp go unpunished without losing face in the movement. He therefore turned his men loose on the ex-officers and men who served under Saddam Hussein who make up the Army of Mohammed.
Its underground commander Sufyan Hattam Shalila was liquidated by an al Qaeda unit on May 4. A second killer squad gunned down Hikmet Mumtaz al Baz, sheikh of the Iraqi Albu Baz tribe, many of whose members serve in the Army of Muhammad. He was killed in the insurgent group’s main haunt, Samarra, Tuesday, May 9.
They were felled in bloody battles covering a large area between the Army of Muhammad bases in Samarra, north of Baghdad, and Ar Ruthba to the west, in Anbar province. Dozens of tribesmen lost their lives in the fighting and at least 10 al Qaeda fighters.
The continued clashes, prompted an announcement from Hamid Samidai, head of one of the foremost Sunni underground groups, the Islamic Army.
While adopting a neutral position in the controversy between al Qaeda and the Army of Muhammed – his group confines itself to “killing Americans” – he emphasized that Iraqi deaths at the hands of Zarqawi or any other element will not be tolerated.
This declaration put Zarqawi’s followers in the Samarra district on the defensive against reprisals. They decided it would be prudent for them to pull out.
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