BEIRUT, Lebanon, AP – A self-styled Shiite Muslim insurgent group made its public debut in a videotape aired by a Lebanese TV station, pledging to fight U.S., British and other coalition forces but to spare Iraqi civilians and soldiers.
“We have been patient enough and we have given the political process a chance,” the Islamic Resistance in Iraq — Abbas Brigades said in a statement that accompanied the tape Sunday. It could not be independently authenticated.
It was the first public appearance by a Shiite group claiming a role in an insurgency that has been dominated by Sunni Arabs, who lost the power and privilege they had under Saddam’s regime to the majority Shiite Arabs and minority Sunni Kurds.
The statement, read by a TV announcer, said U.S. troops came to Iraq under the pretext of overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s government but are now “building bases, looting our resources, interfering in everything, sowing sectarian sedition between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds.”
The group said it aims to rid Iraq of foreign occupation and preserve its territorial unity. It pledged to limit its attacks to foreign forces.
“We assure them (Iraqis) that operations against civilians are great transgressions. Members of the Iraqi army, police and Iraqi security agencies are our sons, brothers and beloved. They are our hope for the future to preserve the land of Iraq and its security. So are state employees,” the statement said.
The station, New TV, said it received the tape along with the statement exclusively. The three-minute video showed five separate attacks in which military vehicles and tanks similar to ones used by coalition forces were blown up by roadside bombs. The statement said the footage was from recent operations, but it was impossible to determine when or where it was taken.
Appearing in the corner of the footage is a palm of a hand, a Shiite symbol, and a picture of what appeared to be one of Iraq’s Shiite shrines, a golden-domed mosque with a red flag.