The story began when the people of Hor Rijab, a village inhabited by mostly Sunni farmers, made up their mind that enough is enough and formed a "battalion" of local fighters to confront al-Qaeda hardly two weeks ago.
Al-Qaeda was definitely not happy with this rebellion and on Tuesday morning attacked the village, Radio Sawa has the details: [Arabic]
Locals fleeing the area said the attack started at 10 in the morning and the shooting didn't stop until after 5 in the evening. Al-Qaeda militants who are mostly Afghans and non-Iraqi Arabs killed dozens of the locals; some were beheaded and their heads were put on top of their chests; among them were women and children.
One woman who was fleeing the fighting added:
The people of Hor Rijab turned against al-Qaeda but since there was no support for them al-Qaeda returned back, broke into the homes and slaughtered men, women and children. And the Americans did nothing…
So, the terrorists of al-Qaeda attacked the Sunni families in this poor village and no one was there for the rescue; not the government and not the MNF. The rescue came from was thought to be a very unlikely source; the Shia families in the neighboring district of Abu Dsheer:
Al-Qaeda started to kill people and burn down homes. They killed women and children. The people of Abu Dsheer received us they way noble people do, and they started to offer us water and food…they told us we are family…
The tragedy of this village offers us a lesson that we must learn. First, al-Qaeda wanted through this barbaric massacre that belongs to the dark ages of history to prove that anyone regardless of sect who dares turn against them would become the target of the most horrific ways of revenge. Second, the noble behavior of the neighboring Shia town proves once again that violence in Iraq isn't civil war and that the reconciliation we should be looking for is one among politicians, not among ordinary Iraqis.
Third, it is really disappointing that neither the government nor the MNF was quick enough to intervene and stop the massacre. This means the government and MNF are likely to lose the trust of those families and this is a precious asset that we can't afford to lose at this critical stage of the war.
The government and MNF must pay the utmost attention to such movements of awakening in Baghdad and elsewhere and make sure that they get all the support they need.
Today al-Qaeda also assassinated the leader of the Anbar Awakening; a hero who will not be easily forgotten. This crime will not pass without punishment and I believe this will even strengthen the resolve and morale of the tribes of Anbar. Al-Qaeda have always miscalculated its role and chances in this province and I think killing Abu Risha is going to cost them a lot.
But as we lose Abu Risha, more patriots arise to stand up to al-Qaeda; this time in Mosul and the movement is lead by another tribal leader; sheik Fawaz al-Jarbah of the giant Shemmar tribe: [Arabic]
When terrorism became a serious threat we all felt that we had a duty to stand up to this threat, and so was the agreement with our brothers in the tribes of Mosul. There was a meeting that hasn't been made public yet and there we decided to create the awakening and salvation council of Mosul to confront terrorism in cooperation with the government forces and MNF.
The active forces of this movement will consist of 3,000 volunteers and with the size of Mosul and its suburbs we can expect those men to be distributed in a large number of small units. So I hope the government and MNF be serious this time about the support they pledge. Otherwise those men would be facing the risk of being outnumbered and overridden by the focused terrorists of al-Qaeda and that could mean more massacres of innocent people. We must not allow this to happen again.