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The insurgents came at midday, walking across a canal, advancing under cover of mortar fire toward the cluster of three Iraqi villages. Within eight hours, Shiite residents who fled said the Sunni insurgents had expelled thousands of them from the majority-Sunni province, helped by local Sunnis in neighboring villages. Hassan Ali, a 52-year-old farmer siting in the al-Zahra Shiite mosque, used to distribute aid in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where the displaced had fled, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away said, “You cannot imagine what happened, only if you saw it could you believe it.”



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