Arab Sunni tribes rise against al-Qaeda

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Azzaman, February 21, 2014

By Salam Abdulshammari

Arab Sunni Tribes in the restive Province of Diyala have mobilized their tribesmen to defend their areas against any possible penetration by ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

ISIS, which is affiliated to the terror group al-Qaeda, has strengthened positions in the western Province of Anbar, controlling parts of the provincial town, Ramadi, as well as the strategic town of Falluja.

Early this month, its militants stormed the town of Sulaiman Baik in the Province of Salhudeen north of Baghdad raising fears that the group would turn other Sunni Muslim-dominated provinces into strongholds.

But ISIS lost Sulaiman Baik with scores of its militants killed or captured.

However, the authorities in the Diyala Province fear that the fleeing militants might attack towns in their areas, particularly the town of Khalis.

The provincial official in charge of Khalis Udai al-Khadran said intelligence reports were pointing to ISIS militants trying to attack his town.

“Most intelligence information indicates that ISIS, following its loss of the battle for Sulaiman Baik in Salhudeen Province will be moving towards Khalis,” Khadran said. “The officials administering Khalis see the battle against ISIS as of tantamount importance because it is a battle against radicalism, killing and blood.”

Khadran vowed to mobilize “all of Khalis’ security capabilities in support of the city’s security organs to eradicate ISIS no matter the sacrifices.”

He called on the security forces guarding Khalis “to form a line of fire to prevent ISIS from penetrating their areas.”

He said tribes were mobilizing men capable of carrying arms “to confront emergencies and inform about the presence of foreigners within the town’s administrative borders.”

An Iraqi army commander said ISIS had lost the battle for Sulaiman Baik with his troops killing 84 ISIS militants.

The commander, Lt. Gen. Abdulamir al-Zaidi, said the Iraqi army had “scored a decisive battle” over ISIS and forced it to leave the town of Sulaiman Baik.