Insurgent leaders and Sunni Arab politicians say divisions between insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda in Iraq have widened and have led to combat in some areas of the country, a schism that U.S. officials hope to exploit.
Insurgent leaders from two of the prominent groups fighting U.S. troops said the divisions between their forces and Al-Qaeda are serious. They have led to skirmishes in Al Anbar province, in western Iraq, and have stopped short of combat in Diyala, east of Baghdad, they said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times.
The General Command of the Iraqi Armed Forces, a small Baath Party insurgent faction, told the Los Angeles Times it had split with Al-Qaeda in Iraq last September, after the assassination of two of its members in Al Anbar.
"Al-Qaeda killed two of our best members, the General Mohammed and General Saab, in Ramadi, so we took revenge and now we fight Al-Qaeda,"said the group's spokesman, who called himself Abu Marwan.
In Diyala, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, a coalition of Islamists and former Baath Party military officers, is on the verge of cutting ties with Al-Qaeda.
"In the past, we agreed in terms of the goal of resisting the occupation and expelling the occupation. We have some disagreements with Qaeda especially about targeting civilians, places of worship, state civilian institutions and services,"said Haj Mahmoud Abu Bakr, a fighter with the brigade.
The government has proposed a trial cease-fire period to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Islamic Army in Iraq and other factions in western Baghdad. In return, the Iraqi government would mount a major reconstruction drive in battle-scarred Sunni areas, a senior member of Prime Minister Maliki's Dawa Party said.