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President Barack Obama has denounced Sunday's twin suicide bombings in Baghdad that killed 155 people and wounded some 500 others as "outrageous attacks" that "reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve." Mr. Obama spoke with Iraq's president and prime minister by telephone following the attacks.
In a White House statement, President Obama said the bombings "serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children." He said the United States will "stand with Iraq's people and government as a close friend and partner, as Iraqis prepare for elections early next year, continue to take responsibility for their future, and build greater peace and opportunity."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also released a statement on Sunday, expressing her condolences to the victims of what she called "savage attacks" at the Iraqi Ministry of Justice and the headquarters of the Baghdad Provincial Assembly. Clinton said the United States will "stand by all Iraqis, at this crucial time leading up to national elections, and we pledge to join them in working together to combat all forms of violence and attempts at intimidation."
On CBS television's "Face the Nation" program, Republican Senator John McCain was asked whether Iraqi security forces are capable of handling these types of attacks, as U.S. military forces reduce their presence in Iraq. "I think it's a terrible tragedy. I think it's also significant that they [i.e., Iraqi security forces] have a ways to go. But I agree with [Army] General [Ray] Odierno that these attacks will continue, but they're not sustainable. The majority of the people are opposed to them, and the Iraqi military will be able to handle this transition. But it's not going to be without tragedies such as we've seen," he said.
McCain, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked whether the timeline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq within the next year might need to be revised in the wake of the latest attacks. "There will continue to be outbreaks of this sectarian violence. It's extremists trying to ignite sectarian violence is what's going on. But they [i.e., Iraqi security forces] still have a ways to go. But it's not going to require any delay in the withdrawal of U.S. troops," he said.
In August, attackers targeted Iraq's ministries of finance and foreign affairs. Those truck bombs killed more than 100 people and wounded 500 others. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for those blasts. Violence in Iraq has dropped significantly during the past year, but insurgents continue to stage sporadic attacks on security forces and civilians.