- Filed Under
CAIRO, Egypt — Five militant Iraqi Sunni groups said in a joint statement posted on the Internet that they were stepping up attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq in support of Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The statement announced the launching of what was described as the "Iraqi Resistance Campaign to Help Gaza" and accused President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of responsibility for the deteriorating situation in the coastal strip.
It described the American and Israeli leaders as "war criminals," saying they sought to "cover up their dreadful failures in all fields." It did not provide details of the planned attacks on U.S. troops.
The statement, which surfaced Tuesday on an Islamic Web site commonly used for militant messaging, also called on nations all over the world to "help lift injustice off the innocent Gazans."
It also addressed the Gazans, urging them to be "patient and steadfast" because "victory was close," adding that although the mujahideen, or holy warriors, were preoccupied with fighting "the enemies of God in Iraq, this will not deter us from helping our brothers (Palestinians) because the enemy is one and the victim is one."
The Iraqi Sunni groups said to be behind the posting include the Jihad and Reform Front, formed last May and made up of the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahideen Army and Ansar al-Sunnah, as well as the Islamic Movement of Hamas-Iraq and the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance.
"We announce the launching of a military campaign ... to step up military action against the American partners of the Zionists and enemies of humanity," said the statement. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.
The statement was posted before Wednesday morning's dramatic break through a security barrier at the border between the small Gaza Strip, run by Hamas militants, and Egypt, after which tens of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt to stock up on medicine, fuel and food supplies.
Israel has been carrying out airstrikes and limited ground operations against Gaza militants. Last week Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, stopping shipments of fuel, medicine and food, but began easing the restrictions on Monday in the wake of an international outcry.