A leading Sunni tribal chief, sheik Ali Hatem al-Suleiman, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, in Erbil, northern Iraq, Thursday June 19, 2014.
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Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman, one of the leaders of the Sunni revolt against the Shiite-led government of Iraq, sat cross-legged on a couch, lit another Marlboro Red, and discussed the struggle against the government.Suleiman has become one of the public faces of the rebellion. Suleiman described how ISIS fighters and his Sunni rebels gradually came together. Suleiman commanded fighters in Ramadi and dodged Iraqi government attempts to kill him.Suleiman, who is often called Sheikh Ali or Ali Hatem, straddles the groups and provides a badge of legitimacy; his grandfather fought in the nation's 1920 uprising against the British and was a friend of King Faisal, the founder of modern Iraq.ISIS is smaller – between 8,000 and 20,000 fighters, compared to an estimated 30,000 Sunni tribal and nationalist fighters – but it increasingly dominates the insurgency.Suleiman, said al-Tammi, was a "genuine tribal and popular figure," one of the "revolutionaries with genuine demands".But, he believes, ISIS will ultimately defeat all other Sunni groups. A fighter loyal to Suleiman agreed, telling Reuters that any distinction between the Sunni tribes and ISIS has effectively vanished.
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