Sunni tribes thwart IS efforts to storm town

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By Nourideen Hameed

Azzaman, August 19, 2014

The leader of Sunni Arab tribes in the embattled town of Haditha has lashed out at militants of the Islamic State (IS), saying he and his men would fight them to death.

Sheikh Awad Saeed said it was wrong to describe IS, formerly known as ISIS, as ‘a revolutionary’ group, a term which is frequently used by a few Sunni tribal and political factions supporting or sympathizing with the Jihadists.

“The tribes in Haditha are defending themselves and categorically reject IS and will do what it takes to prevent it from entering the town,” Saeed said.

Haditha, 240 kilometers to the northwest of Baghdad, is a farming town on the Euphrates River. It was reputed for its tough resistance of U.S. occupation troops in Iraq before their withdrawal in 2011.

It is also known for its dam – the Haditha Dam – which is the second largest water reservoir and hydroelectric contributor to the national grid in Iraq after the Mosul Dam.

IS militants have mounted several attacks on the dam just north of the town but Iraqi troops aided by Sunni tribesmen fought them off.

“Our problem is with IS. Our fighting is against IS. We have no problem with the government,” said Awad.

Awad denied reports that tribes in the area of Haditha supported IS.

“There are no havens for IS in our areas,” he said, adding that all Arab Sunni tribes in Haditha were united not to let IS enter the town or spread its control over its dam.