Militants who fought together to capture swathes of Iraqi territory have turned their weapons on each other during clashes in Kirkuk province in which 17 people were killed, sources said on Saturday.
According to AFP, the fighting erupted on Friday evening between the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order (JRTN) in Hawija, in Kirkuk province, said the sources.
There were differing accounts as to what sparked the firefight, which is a potential sign of the fraying of the insurgent alliance that has overrun vast stretches of territory north of Baghdad in less than two weeks.
One security official said JRTN fighters had refused an ISIL demand to give up their weapons and pledge allegiance to the terrorist force.
Witnesses, however, told AFP the two sides clashed over who would take over multiple fuel tankers in the area.
Shias hold parades across Iraq
Meanwhile, thousands of heavily-armed Shias paraded through several Iraqi cities Saturday after militants seized a town on the Syrian border in what appeared to be the start of a new offensive in the western Anbar province.
The capture Friday of the town of Qaim and its border crossing
According to AP, about 20,000 men, many in combat gear, marched through the Sadr City district in Baghdad with assault rifles, machine guns, multiple rocket launchers, field artillery and missiles. Similar parades were held in the southern cities of Amarah and Basra.
The parades were staged by followers of Shia preacher Muqtada al-Sadr, who once led a powerful militia that battled U.S. troops in 2006 and 2007.
Police and army officials said the ISIL, along with allied militants, seized Qaim and its crossing, about 320 kilometers west of Baghdad, after killing some 30 Iraqi troops in daylong clashes Friday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media, said people were now crossing back and forth freely.
Chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi tacitly acknowledged Qaim's fall, telling a news conference in Baghdad that troops aided by local tribesmen were seeking to clear the city of terrorists.
Moussawi said fighting was continuing for a fifth day over Iraq's largest refinery in Beiji, north of Baghdad, with the army force there repelling three waves of attacks by the Sunni militants on Friday night.
Qatar recruits 1,800 terrorists for Iraq war
In another development, new documents show that Qatar has recently recruited and plans to send 1,800 terrorists from Morocco and other parts of North Africa to Iraq to join the ISIL terrorists.
A document signed by Qatari charge d'affaires in Tripoli Nayef Bin Abdullah al-Amadi and recently found from Qatar's embassy in Libya showed that the militants have received trainings in al-Zantan, Bin Ghazi, al-Zawiya and Musurata military bases in Libya on how to use heavy weaponry.
The document also revealed that the Qatari diplomat has proposed his country to send the terrorists to Turkey through the Libyan ports and then to Iraq's Kurdish regions in three groups.
The diplomat has stressed in the document that the groups are ready to be dispatched to Iraq by the next week.
Media reports earlier this month said that the foreign-backed militants fighting against the Iraqi government in the Western parts of the Arab country are receiving monthly salaries in cash from Riyadh and Doha.
The ISIL militants fighting against the Iraqi government in the city of Fallujah in Anbar Province in Western Iraq receive a monthly salary of $700 from the governments of Riyadh and Doha, the Iraq Al-Qanoun news website quoted member of Fallujah Liberation Council Maki Al-Issawi as saying.
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