Iraq Cracks Down on US-Allied Sunni Fighters

US commanders fear reversal of hard-fought peace
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2008 6:30 AM CDT
US-backed Awakening Council fighters provide security in a street in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad last week.   (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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(Newser) – Iraq's Shiite-dominated government has begun a crackdown on groups of US-backed Sunni fighters, the New York Times reports. The government fears the fighters, part of what is called the Awakening movement, could be waiting to turn their guns on Shiites. In several parts of the country senior members have been arrested in recent weeks, and hundreds of others, many of them on the US payroll, have been targeted.

US military officials credit the Sunnis with major gains in security over the last year, and warn that the government's move could prompt renewed violence. They urge that the Sunnis be integrated into Iraq's security forces. Many in the government, however, are unwilling to work with ex-insurgents with Shiite blood on their hands. “These people are like cancer, and we must remove them,” an Iraqi commander tells the Times, holding a list of Awakening Council leaders to be arrested.