CAIRO, Egypt – Six main Iraqi insurgent groups announced the formation of a "political council" aimed at "liberating" Iraq from U.S. occupation in a video aired Thursday on Al-Jazeera television.
The council appeared to be a new attempt to assert the leadership of the groups, which have moved to distance themselves from another coalition of insurgent factions led by al-Qaida in Iraq.
In the video aired on Al-Jazeera, a man identified as the council's spokesman — wearing traditional Iraqi garb, with his face blacked out — announced the council's formation and a "political program to liberate Iraq."
He said the program was based on two principles.
"First, the occupation is an oppression and aggression, rejected by Islamic Sharia law and tradition. Resistance of occupation is a right guaranteed by all religions and laws," he said. "Second, the armed resistance ... is the legitimate representative of Iraq. It is the one that bears responsibility for the leadership of the people to achieve its legitimate hope."
The groups forming the council include the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna, the Fatiheen Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (Jami) and the Islamic Movement of Hamas-Iraq.
The step could be a bid by the insurgents for a more cohesive political voice at a time of considerable rearrangement among Sunni insurgent groups and Iraq's Sunni Arab minority.
Splinter factions of two insurgent groups, the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Mujahideen Army, have cooperated with U.S. forces in fighting insurgents allied to al-Qaida in Iraq.
Earlier this year, other groups — the Islamic Army of Iraq, the main faction of the Mujahideen Army, a branch of Ansar al-Sunna and the Fatiheen Army — formed a coalition called the Jihad and Reform Front opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq, though they have continued attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.