Pro-Al Qaida insurgents take major Iraqi city

Friday, July 16, 2004

BAGHDAD 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 north of 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.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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