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Iran says U.S. incites Sunni-Shi'ite strife in Iraq

Reuters | October 13 2006

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority, said on Friday the United States was encouraging sectarian strife in Iraq.

Iraq has been gripped by violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims since the bombing of a revered Shi'ite Muslim shrine in February. The United Nations estimates 100 Iraqis die violently every day.

"Making Sunnis and Shi'ites suspicious of one another ... is the policy of the Americans in Iraq," Khamenei told worshippers at Friday prayers, broadcast live on state television.

"Our Iraqi brothers need to stand united ... and beware that the enemy plans to turn people against the people," he said.

Worshippers chanted "Death to America" before the service.

Shi'ites are a majority in Iraq, as they are in neighboring Iran where Shi'ite Islam is the official state religion.

The United States accuses Iran of backing insurgents in Iraq and encouraging the unrest, a charge Iran denies.

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