A senior Iraqi Sunni cleric requested religious authorities and scholars in the country to avoid issuing provocative religious decrees (fatwas) against security forces, warning that such positions are an act of treachery as they mean aligning with terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its branch, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The Iraqi security and military forces who took part in Al-Anbar operations are part of the Iraqi people and for the same reason they should be supported,” Head of Iraqi Ulemas Society Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla told FNA on Wednesday.
Sheikh Al-Mulla’s remarks came as tensions have been rising over the past few weeks in Anbar, a province that makes up a third of Iraq’s territory along the Euphrates River.
He reiterated that Iraq’s religious scholars should avoid making statements that would threaten the lives of the country’s security forces.
The army launched a major operation in Anbar to flush out Al-Qaeda militants after an attack killed at least 18 soldiers, including an army commander on December 21.
Clashes broke out Monday in the Ramadi area, West of Baghdad, as security forces dismantled a protest camp where demonstrators had gathered for more than a year.
Ten militants died in the fighting, which also spread to the nearby city of Fallujah.
Protests broke out in the area in December 2012 after the arrest of the guards of then-finance minister, Rafa al-Essawi, on terrorism charges.
The Iraqi premier had described the protest site as “a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda,” and urged the protesters to leave the camps.
Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Askari told state television the decision to remove the camp came after tribal leaders and local government and defense ministry officials reached a deal.