Seven Sunni Arab insurgent groups have contacted the government to declare their readiness to join in efforts at national reconciliation, a key Shiite legislator said Monday.
The seven lesser groups, most of them believed populated by former members or backers of Saddam Hussein’s government, military or security agencies, have said they want a truce, Hassan al-Suneid, a lawmaker and member of the political bureau of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, told The Associated Press.
The contact by the insurgent organizations, which could not be independently verified, would mark an important potential shift and stand as evidence of a growing divide between Iraqi insurgents and the more brutal and ideological fighters of al-Qaida in Iraq, who are believed to mainly be non-Iraqi Islamic militants.
Al-Maliki was considering a possible meeting with leaders of the groups or contacts through intermediaries, al-Suneid said.
He identified only six of the seven organizations by name, listing them as the al-Ashreen Brigades, the Mohammed Army, Abtal al-Iraq (Heroes of Iraq), the 9th of April Group, al-Fatah Brigades, the Brigades of the General Command of the Armed Forces.
The al-Ashreen Brigades operate primarily in Anbar province, the violent insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad. The organization claims its operations have only been conducted against U.S. forces. They and other insurgents were said to have protected polling places against attacks by other militant groups in Anbar during December parliamentary voting.