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Iraq Insurgents Unite To Fight U.S.

By CBS/AP

10/04/07 "
CBS/AP" -- -- Nearly two dozen previously unknown Iraqi insurgent groups announced a new coalition to fight foreign occupation but it also set conditions for talks with the U.S. in a statement on a Web site affiliated with the country's deposed Baath party.

The 22 groups said their leader is Izzat al-Douri, the highest ranking member of Saddam Hussein's former ruling party still at large.

In the nearly half hour video message, an unidentified man, face blurred, was shown sitting behind a table with an Iraqi flag on his right side reading a statement announcing the formation of the new alliance called "The Jihad and Liberation."

According to the speaker in the video, downloaded by CBS News, the newly established umbrella group came into being during a conference held in Baghdad.

The group declared itself open to "all those who carry arms to fight the occupiers."

The new alliance laid down a series of conditions for talks with the U.S. It demanded an unconditional withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, immediately or within a short timetable, the release of all detainees, return of the security forces to their status before the occupation and a halt to all operations against the people.

"If the enemy wants to withdraw and save face, they should sit down and speak directly with the resistance to discuss implementing these sacred principles. Otherwise, the only alternative is their collapse and flight," the statement said.

Ayad Allawi, Iraq's first post-Saddam prime minister, has recently said he held talks with members of the Baath party loyal to al-Douri, for which he was severely criticized by Iraq's current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The statement made no mention of al Qaeda in Iraq, but it contained slogans praising Arab nationalism and the Arab nation's great past. Al Qaeda's extremist ideology does not recognize nationalism, but calls for an Islamic state.

There have been reports of clashes in Iraq between the more nationalist and secular elements of the insurgency with groups following al Qaeda.

The coalition is led by a group linked to al-Douri, who in his later years ascribed to a moderate, mystic Sufi form of Islam.

An Islamic Web site linked to extremist groups such as al Qaeda also carried the announcement, but ridiculed al-Douri and the new group.

MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved

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