Saudi-Backed Gunmen ambushed a group of travelers at a fake checkpoint at a remote desert site in western Iraq on Wednesday and killed at least 14 of them, according to Iraqi officials, in what appeared to be the latest blow in sectarian violence gripping the country.
The gunmen, apparently looking for Shiites to kill, struck near the town of Nukhaib. The town, near the site of a deadly 2011 ambush, sits at a desert crossroads west of the Shiite holy city of Karbala, but is in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province.
The assailants manning the fake highway checkpoint checked the identities of travelers, presumably to identify their sect based on their names, according to officials. Police said they found blood-stained IDs on the ground identifying some of the dead as coming from Karbala, 60 miles south of Baghdad.
Officials said the 14 victims of Wednesdayâ€™s attack were shot in the head. They said the dead included police and soldiers, as well as civilian residents of the overwhelmingly Shiite Karbala.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to reporters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesdayâ€™s attack. Iraqi officials believe Sunni insurgents including al-Qaidaâ€™s Iraq branch as well as loyalists of Saddam Husseinâ€™s former regime are responsible for much of the violence against Shiites and government security forces.
Mohammed al-Moussawi, a provincial councilman in Karbala, confirmed that four of the dead ambushed were civilians from the province.
The area around Nukhaib, near where Wednesdayâ€™s killings happened, was the site of an eerily similar September 2011 ambush on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims.
In that earlier attack, uniformed gunmen set up a fake checkpoint and hijacked a bus from Karbala that was carrying Shiite pilgrims heading to the Sayida Zeinab shrine in Syria. They told the women and children to stay aboard while 22 men were marched out and shot dead further down the road.
Wednesdayâ€™s attack came at the end of a Shiite commemoration of a revered Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, buried in Baghdad. Authorities imposed tight security measures in the Iraqi capital to protect pilgrims, and no serious violence was reported there during the commemoration.
It is worth to mentioning that controversial Sunni Sheikh al-Qaradawi issued a Fatwa base on that Alawites & Shiite are even worse than Christians and Jews so severely fight against them. His ridiculous Fatwa escalate tension between Sunni and Shias.
It is against this backdrop that we should view Qaradawiâ€™s remarks. There was a time when he had a positive attitude towards Sunni-Shia rapprochement. But when some Western states began to re-assert their power in WANA in the midst of the Arab uprisings, Qaradawi appeared to legitimise their role. He was among the earliest public figures to endorse NATOâ€™s air strikes over Libya. In the middle of last year he even opined that if the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came back today, he would support NATO. This earned him the derisive moniker â€˜NATO Muftiâ€™ among some Arab commentators.
It is Qaradawiâ€™s legitimisation of Western hegemony by invoking religious authority that makes his role so perfidious. What is worse, he has been appealing to sectarian religious sentiments which pit Muslim against Muslim, which have led to murders and massacres on a massive scale, in order to perpetuate the interests of both regional actors and global powers. It is a glaring example of the crude abuse of religion by someone who dons the garb of religion.