Allawi-Maliki row erupts over 2007 assault

May 1, 2008 at 1:59 PM
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BAGHDAD, May 1 (UPI) -- An official with the Iraqi National List coalition denied suggestions Iyad Allawi sought a formal apology for claims he backed an Iraqi Shiite messianic sect.

U.S. and Iraqi forces in January 2007 launched a massive operation against the Shiite cult Jund al-Samaa, or Soldiers of Heaven, who claim their leader was the hidden imam, the prophesized redeemer of Islam.

Military forces raided the group's stronghold in al-Zarga outside of Najaf, killing over 300, including the alleged imam, Dia Abdul-Zahra.

Conflicts erupted again in Basra in early January, leaving 40 people dead in clashes between Iraqi national forces and militants with the Soldiers of Heaven.

Iraqi authorities suggested in January the group had links to Allawi, the former Iraqi premier and head of the Iraqi National List.

Osama al-Nujaifi, a lawmaker with the Iraqi National List, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Wednesday to issue an "official apology" to Allawi for suggesting he had links to the group.

Maliki refused to apologize saying, "If there was an insult made by the Iraqi List or the head of the Iraqi List, then it is not our responsibility to apologize for it," Voices of Iraq said.

Nujaifi, however, said the apology was part of the conditions laid forth by the Iraqi National List to return to the Maliki government.

Izat al-Shabandor, a top official in the Allawi alliance, backed away from the demands, however, saying instead that Allawi sought a full disclosure of the government investigation into the incident.

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