PM: Iraq army opens door to all former members of Saddam army
Iraq's army has "opened its doors" to all former members of Saddam Hussein's army, the prime minister said Saturday at a national reconciliation conference boycotted by one of his main Shiite allies, a major Sunni group and Iraq's exiled opposition.
Despite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to reach out to Iraq's Sunnis and some former members of Saddam's outlawed Baath Party, the gathering was overshadowed by growing sectarian tensions and political disputes.
"We firmly believe that national reconciliation is the only guaranteed path toward security, stability and prosperity. The alternative, God forbid, is death and destruction and the loss of Iraq," said al-Maliki, according to the AP.
"The new Iraqi army has opened its doors for members of the former army, officers and soldiers, and the national unity government is prepared to absorb those who have the desire to serve the nation," al-Maliki said.
He said the government needed "their energies, expertise and skills in order to complete the building of our armed forces."
On the ground, the U.S. military raided the Shiite slum of Sadr City and detained six suspects. The raid and airstrike left one fighter dead and another wounded.
At least 14 people also were killed or found dead in Iraq, including a Christian car mechanic who was shot to death in the northern city of Mosul.