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AFTER THE WAR

Iraq Shiites Say Gun Edict Is Discriminatory

May 25, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — A leading Shiite Muslim group in Iraq criticized a new U.S. military edict calling on citizens to hand over weapons, complaining Saturday that Shiite militias will be disarmed while the policy allows ethnic Kurdish fighters in the north to keep some of their weapons.

"Shiites are the majority in this country, and disarming their militia will make them feel as discriminated by the allies as they were" under Saddam Hussein, said Hamid Bayati, a spokesman for the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The Kurdish fighters assisted the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Washington asked the main Shiite militia, the Badr Brigade, to stay out of the fight because of its close links to Iran.

Under the edict, Iraqis have been told to surrender their weapons at munitions depots during the first half of June.

"No one in Iraq, unless authorized, may possess, conceal, hide or bury these weapons," a military statement said. "No one can trade, sell, barter, give or exchange automatic or heavy weapons with or to any person who is not an authorized representative of coalition forces."

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