Leaders from two key tribes in Baqouba have signed an agreement that stops age-old fighting between the groups and also pledges their cooperation against al-Qaida in Iraq, U.S. military officials said Friday.

The sheiks of the Ubaidi and Anbakia tribes signed the peace agreement July 10 during a meeting at the Baqouba government center, according to U.S. military officials. The agreement commits the leaders to “end tribal conflicts that have been occurring for decades and stand together against al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations,” a news release read.

The deal was apparently brokered by leaders of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The agreement came after tribal leaders were “meeting for the past several months to discuss and work through grievances between their respective tribes.”

Parts of the deal outlaw tribal infighting and kidnappings; commits the leaders to turn in tribe members who commit crimes or attacks against Iraqis and Americans; help solve agricultural disputes; and assist displaced families in returning to their homes.

On June 19, U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a sweeping offensive to clear the city of insurgents. Two weeks of house-to-house operations now have led to a situation where the military push needs to be backed up with government services, security and a return to daily life, military officials have said.

Baqouba residents had chafed at the imposition of strict Islamic law by insurgents, including the establishment of an Islamic court and a ban on cigarette sales.

As in other areas of Iraq, military officials said, the insurgents appeared to reach too far and turned significant portions of the local population against them — leading them, in turn, to help U.S. and Iraqi troops.

U.S. military leaders have also started meeting with local political leaders in Baqouba.

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