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Iraqi Shiites join Sunnis to fight Islamic State

The Islamic State aimed to create a Shiite-Sunni conflict to impose its control, but Iraqi Sunnis have instead turned to help from Shiites to get rid of the extremist group.
Shi'ite volunteers, from Abbas Unit who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), parade down a street in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad August 14, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the Islamist militant siege of Iraq's Mount Sinjar had been broken and most of the U.S. military personnel sent to assess the situation would be pulled out of Iraq in the coming days.  REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhamme

The Islamic State (IS) mainly relies on the sectarian conflict to create a favorable ground for its so-called caliphate. Unlike its al-Qaeda counterpart, IS has adopted a sectarian agenda as a permanent and fundamental strategy. The instigation of a Sunni-Shiite conflict has been the group’s ongoing key tool and policy since its inception under Abu Musab Zarqawi’s era.

This has been one of the main differences between the two groups, since the beginning of their operations in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003. Zarqawi addressed the Sunni-Shiite conflict in his message to Osama bin Laden in 2004. The former considered fighting Shiites an undeniable priority of jihad, in such a way that fighting the Americans should not hinder or stop the fighting of Shiites.

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