Kurdish peshmerga fighters stand guard on the front line with the Islamic State group, as they patrol in Rabia, northwestern Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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When ISIS fighters tried to storm the Tigris River town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad this week, they were repelled by a rare coalition of Sunni tribal fighters inside the town and Shiites in its sister city Balad on the opposite bank.Further north, another powerful Sunni tribe fought alongside Kurdish forces to drive ISIS fighters from Rabia, a town controlling one of the main border checkpoints used by fighters pouring in from Syria.When ISIS fighters arrived in June, members of the Al-Jubouri tribe refused their request to hand over 35 local police and security forces officers. Since then, there have been attacks and counter-attacks, while the Sunni tribesmen have been mostly besieged inside the town. The fighters Tuesday launched what appeared to be a coordinated assault to capture the town once and for all.The alliance between Sunni Dhuluiya and Shiite Balad has required people in both towns to overcome sectarian animosity built up during a decade of war.Abu Ghiath, the Shiite sheikh in Balad who helped rally the town to the defense of Sunnis in Dhuluiya, said Sunni militants shot dead one of his sons in 2008 and another son was killed in a car bombing in 2011 .
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