US arming Sunni groups in Iraq: report


Baghdad/New York : US military leaders are supplying Sunni groups in Iraq with weapons and other armoury to fight Al Qaeda terrorists, The New York Times reported Monday.

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After a test phase early this year conducted in the western province of Anbar, US military leaders had reluctantly agreed to extend the arms support to four other Sunni-dominated restive provinces in central Iraq, the report added.

The support is going mainly to Sunni groups, who used to back Al Qaeda terrorists, but later turned their backs on them.

They are to receive – mainly through the Iraqi Army – weapons, ammunition, money and other equipment. During initial negotiations, they had agreed to warn US soldiers of booby traps.

The government in Baghdad is sceptical of these plans and so far Shia have resisted negotiating with Sunni insurgents.

The office of the Shia government chief said Monday that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Sunday met Admiral William Fallon, a commander in the US Central Command who is responsible for the Arab world and Central Asia.

During that meeting, al-Maliki said his government "would never subject itself to terrorists and militias and we have made a great step forward. We would never come to an agreement with those who operate beyond the law."

US officers also fear that Sunni groups could use these weapons against Shias and later perhaps against US soldiers, The New York Times reported.