BAGHDAD ø Al Qaida-based insurgents have taken control of a major
city in Iraq.
Iraqi sources and witnesses said Sunni insurgents aligned with Al
Qaida-related groups have seized authority in Samara, about 125 kilometers
Baghdad. They said that in early July Sunni insurgents came from cities
throughout the Sunni Triangle with anti-aircraft artillery and missiles.
The insurgents comprised members of the Tawhid and Jihad group led by
Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. The Iraqi sources said the Al Zarqawi insurgents were
joined by operatives of Ansar Al Islam.
The Shi'ite News Agency reported that the Sunni insurgents have sought
to destroy any trace of the post-Saddam rule in Samara, Middle East Newsline reported. The agency quoted
sources as saying the insurgents have blown up the headquarters of the Iraqi
National Movement Party led by Interior Minister Falah Naqib as well as the
City Council and the headquarters of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
In all, the sources said, about 500 insurgents have seized control of
Samara, which contains a large Sunni and Kurdish population. So far, they
said, the U.S.-led coalition has not tried to enter the city and that the
Iraqi National Guard has not attempted to fight the insurgents.
The insurgency groups have posted notices on buildings and mosques
throughout Samara that warned residents to report any cooperation with the
U.S.-led coalition. The notices issued a July 8 deadline for those
cooperating with the coalition to repent. About 300 people in Samara were
believed to be employees of the coalition.
"They must declare their sincere repentance, perform the legal vow
according to Islamic law, and issue a written pledge that they will not
return to such acts in the grand mosque in the center of the city or in the
Al Razaq mosque in eastern Samara," a group called the Mujahadeen Shura
Council said in the leaflet.