mobile-bannertablet-bannerdesktop-banner
IRAQ-UNREST
Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint on June 21, 2014, close to locations of jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters. Karim Sahib—AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi Official: Sunni Insurgents, Baathists Fighting One Another

Jun 21, 2014

Sunni insurgents who are making their way across Iraq in a drive towards the nation's capital clashed with their Baathist allies this week, Iraq security officials said Saturday.

Citing unnamed Iraqi security officials, the New York Times reports that the Sunni forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their Baathist allies fought one another in western Kirkuk late this week. An unnamed witness said the two factions fought over gas and oil trucks.

An Iraqi security official told the Times that ISIS tried to disarm the Baathists before eight Baathists and nine ISIS militants were killed in subsequent fighting.

ISIS has formed an unlikely alliance with the Baathists, the party of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The Baathists' cooperation has helped the insurgents take over wide swaths of the country, but the two groups are ideologically opposed: the Sunni extremists are deeply religious and want to impose strict Islamic law across the region, while the Baathists are more secular. Their apparently fragile alliance is rooted in a mutual distrust of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated government.

This week's fighting could be taken as a sign that alliance is cracking. However, the Iraqi government has reason to make claims of in-fighting among the groups: such news could destabilize the partnership, giving Maliki's forces an edge as ISIS and its allies continue marching towards Baghdad.

“We will not let them take any foot of our earth,” Iraq's head military spokesperson, Gen. Qassim Atta said in a briefing while discussing the fate of an oil refinery captured for a time by insurgents this week. “We are the ones who are making the attacks.”

[NYT]

Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) in the city of Ramadi, June 19.
Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) in the city of Ramadi, June 19.Reuters
Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) in the city of Ramadi, June 19.
A satellite image shows smoke rising from the Baiji refinery near Tikrit, Iraq, June 18.
Al-Qaeda inspired militants stand with captured Iraqi Army Humvee at a checkpoint belonging to Iraqi Army outside Baiji refinery some 155 miles north of Baghdad, June 19.
Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military-style training in the holy city of Najaf, June 17.
Newly-recruited Iraqi volunteers, wearing police forces uniforms, take part in a training session on June 17 in the central Shiite city of Karbala.
Personnel from the Kurdish security forces detain a man suspected of being a militant belonging to the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the outskirts of Kirkuk June 16.
Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Basra, June 16.
Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as they carry al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, June 16.
Iraqi security forces fire artillery during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Jurf al-Sakhar June 14.
An Iraqi security forces member with his weapon takes position as people, who fled from the violence in Mosul, arrive in their vehicles at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 14.
People hold posters showing Iran's spiritual leaders Ayatollah Khomeini, while Iraqi Shiite fighters deploy with their weapons in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 southeast of Baghdad, June 14.
Iraqi Shiite men, some of them wearing military fatigues and guns given by the government, raise their weapons as they gather in the Iraqi town of Jdaideh in the Diyala province on June 14, to show their support for the call to arms by Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Iraqi men board military trucks to join the Iraqi army at the main recruiting center in Baghdad on June 14, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents.
Peshmerga military direct traffic at a Kurdish check point on June 14, in Kalak.
Traffic from Mosul queues at a Kurdish Check point on June 14,in Kalak.
Iraqi women gather at a temporary camp set up to shelter civilians fleeing violence in northern Nineveh province in Aski Kalak, 25 miles west of Erbil, on June 13.
Iraqi children carry water to their tent at a temporary displacement camp set up next to a Kurdish checkpoint on June 13 in Kalak.
A Shiite man cleans weapons as he gets ready to defend his Sadr City district in case of an attack by Sunni extremists, on June 13 in Baghdad.
An Iraqi soldier bodychecks men as they arrive to volunteer to join the fight against a major offensive by jihadists in northern Iraq on June 13, 2014, at recruiting center in the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi policemen dig trenches at checkpoint in the Iraqi town of Taji, at the entrance of Baghdad, on June 13, 2014, as security forces are bolstering defenses in the capital.
Men chant slogans against the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), outside of the main army recruiting center to volunteer for military service in Baghdad, June 12, 2014.
An Iraq army vehicle is seen burned by militants in Mosul, on June 12, 2014.
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region in Erbil, north of Baghdad, June 12, 2014.
Families fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul arrive at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Erbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 12, 2014.
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.
Civilian children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraq city of Mosul
Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Stat
... VIEW MORE

Reuters
1 of 26
All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.