The Jihad and Reform Front described Saturday's killings as a "catastrophe that befell on us" and urged al-Qaida to hand over the culprits to be tried by its Islamic court, the posting said.
The group was formed by merging the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahideen Army and some senior leaders from the Sharia Commission of Ansar al-Sunnah, according to the Front's founding notice, posted two weeks ago. But leaflets recently plastered on walls in the western city of Fallujah said the 1920 Revolution Brigades had joined the Front as well.
"Twelve of our mujahideen, mostly field commanders from the Mujahideen Army, were killed in a perfidious ambush set up by some of our past comrades whom we did not expect to betray us in such a cruel and barbaric way," the Front said in Monday's statement.
According to the group, its emergence angered "those who work in darkness and who try to bury the newborn (Front) using the most savage means of hostilities and betrayal."
"We consider the al-Qaida organization fully responsible for this heinous crime and call upon them to adopt the true religious stand by handing over ... the criminal killers to the religious court of the Jihad and Reform Front," the statement said.
In its founding notice, the Front implied it was against al-Qaida extremist ideology and indiscriminate attacks on Shiite Muslims or other civilians.
"The mujahideen's (Front's) military actions target the occupier and the agents and not innocent civilians . . . to endeavor to gain the confidence of the Muslims in general," it said.
The formation of the new group indicates the deepening rift between al-Qaida and Sunni guerrilla groups and tribes, especially in the Anbar area. These Sunnis are turning against al-Qaida because of its sheer brutality and austere religious extremism. Some militants have been negotiating with the government to join the political process.
The Islamic Army of Iraq, which has said it opposes al-Qaida's claim to establishing the Islamic state, accused al-Qaida last month of killing 30 of its members. The 1920 Revolution Brigades accused al-Qaida in March of assassinating one of its leaders, Harith Dhaher al-Dhari.
The rift prompted Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of al-Qaida's umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, to appeal to all militants in an audiotape last month to stop spilling each others' blood and unite against the Americans and the government.
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