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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Finds Allies in Former Iraqi Foes

BAGHDAD -- U.S. forces have re-branded one of the main insurgent organizations in Iraq and now use the term "concerned local nationals" to refer to a group that once claimed responsibility for killing scores of Americans.

The updated vocabulary for referring to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, described by a U.S. commander Saturday, is a sign of the abrupt change in tactics that has seen U.S. forces cooperate with former Sunni Arab enemies.

The 1920 Revolution Brigade was one of the main anti-American Sunni Arab insurgent groups in Iraq in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and has claimed responsibility for killing scores of U.S. troops in ambushes and bomb attacks.

But for the past several months, its members have cooperated with U.S. forces to help drive strict al-Qaida Islamists out of Sunni Arab areas.

Colonel David Sutherland, the U.S. commander in the Diyala province, said his men preferred not to use the group's name. "The 1920s as they're called, we call them 'the Baqouba Guardians,' [or] the 'concerned local nationals,'" he said. Baqouba is the provincial capital.

"These are patriots who have come forward and have joined the security process. They are working with my soldiers, and they are working with the Iraqi security forces," he said.

Al-Qaida's indiscriminate attacks have isolated it from Sunni Arabs and nationalist insurgent groups.

Sutherland said the 1920 Revolution Brigade name was now being used widely to refer to local pro-government militia and not insurgents. Some Shiite elders were asking whether they too could recruit "1920s," he said, a sign that the Sunni Arab group's name was no longer seen as sectarian.