Iraq's military has withdrawn the right to carry weapons from 10,000 former Sunni insurgents in a move that threatens to cause a rift between security forces and Sunni fighters credited with helping quell violence in Iraq.
A military spokesman said Sahwa members are considered civilians "so it is not reasonable to authorize around 10,000 personnel to carry weapons in this province."
Leaders of the Sahwa movement, or "Sons of Iraq," responded immediately with a warning that their group would stop cooperating with security forces in the troubled, mainly Sunni, province of Diyala if their weapons permits were rescinded.
Many observers regard the increased cooperation with Sunni groups -- embodied by the related "Anbar Awakening" in which Sunni leaders turned against Al-Qaeda -- as a key factor in helping curb violence during some of the darkest days in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion.
compiled from Reuters reports