Iraqi Shiite Opposition Will
Not Fight Alongside US



DOHA (AFP) - Iraq's main Shiite opposition faction, based in Iran, will
not take part in the "aggressive war" being waged by the United States
and its allies on Iraq, its leader said Saturday.

"We believe that the method of dealing with (the Baghdad) regime should
not be through war. War is harmful," Mohammad Baqir Hakim of the
Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) told
al-Jazeera TV news network.

Therefore "we cannot ... be part of the US action since we do not
believe in this action," Hakim said.

SAIRI's armed wing, the Al-Badr Brigade, is believed to number between
10,000 and 15,000 fighters. Many are said to have crossed into
Kurdish-held northern Iraq in anticipation of the US-led war aimed at
toppling Saddam Hussein.

Hakim told the Qatari television station that because the war defied
international public opinion as well as UN Security Council
resolutions, "we can consider it an aggressive war."

He also said that his group along with the rest of the Iraqi opposition
opposed any Turkish intervention in the north of Iraq, saying that this
would "make the situation of the Iraqi issue very serious."

Both SAIRI and one of the main Kurdish opposition groups said earlier
Saturday that the Iraqi opposition would be allowed to rule the country
immediately after Saddam is ousted from power.

They said the United States had had a change of heart and abandoned
plans to install a temporary US military administration.

SAIRI number two Abdelaziz Hakim told AFP on Saturday that "until now,
the al-Badr Brigade has not received orders from their superiors to get
fully involved (in the conflict) and we do not know when they will."

Shiite soldiers would, he hoped, play a part in ousting Saddam "in due
time", but it would neither be with, nor under the command, of US
forces, he said.

Western diplomatic sources in Tehran say that the United States, which
sees SAIRI as too close to the Iranian regime for its liking, has told
the Shiite opposition that its armed forces were not authorised to
enter Iraq after the start of war.

The SAIRI leader was named at a meeting in late February as part of a
six-member collective leadership which is set to decide on a
post-Saddam interim government.