News / Middle East

US Official: Al-Qaida Responsible for Nearly All Suicide Attacks in Iraq

FILE - Security forces inspect scene of suicide bombing at a coffee shop, Kirkuk, Iraq, July 13, 2013.
FILE - Security forces inspect scene of suicide bombing at a coffee shop, Kirkuk, Iraq, July 13, 2013.
VOA News
A U.S. State Department official has highlighted the threat al-Qaida in Iraq poses to the country and its neighbors, as violence in Iraq escalates.

Brett McGurk, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has significantly increased its attacks in Iraq since early last year.

"Suicide attacks, we assess, are nearly all attributable to ISIL, and nearly all suicide bombers are foreign fighters who enter Iraq through Syria. To give one notable statistic, in November 2012, Iraq saw three suicide attacks throughout the country. In November 2013, it saw 50," said McGurk.

Multiple bombs exploded in Iraq's capital Wednesday, killing at 32 people, while car bombings Thursday left at least five people dead. Violence across Iraq killed 1,000 people last month and nearly 9,000 last year, the highest levels since 2008.

McGurk said al-Qaida in Iraq is attacking predominantly Shi'ite and Kurd areas to stoke sectarian tensions, while also attacking Sunnis to eliminate their rivals and grab territory. He pointed out that the group's leader, believed to be based in Syria, is seeking to control territory from Baghdad to Lebanon

McGurk said the United States is urging Iraqi leaders to develop a security, political and economic strategy to isolate extremists, and is supporting Iraq's military with equipment and training as they try to battle al-Qaida.

President Barack Obama has ruled out the return of U.S. troops to Iraq. The last American forces withdrew in 2011, but U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said Wednesday the United States remains concerned about Iraq's security.

"Direct use of U.S. military force in Iraq is virtually unthinkable at this point. We've withdrawn from Iraq, and we aren't going back. Although we no longer have boots on the ground, however, the U.S. does maintain a stake in Iraq's security, and I believe we should continue to provide appropriate assistance to the Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS," said Engel.

Engel discussed the situation in Iraq's western Anbar province, where last month militants took control of Ramadi and Fallujah. He said the military alone cannot resolve the situation, and that the government must enlist moderate Sunnis to help counter al-Qaida.

Iraqi troops have remained outside the cities, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on local tribes to evict the militants themselves.

The State Department's McGurk said Wednesday that Ramadi is increasingly secure, but that the situation in Fallujah is more complicated, with some locals supporting al-Qaida and the militants trying to draw the military into fighting.

"The Iraqi military would have the numbers and the equipment to go into Fallujah tomorrow and clean out the streets. We believe that were they do to an assault like that, that it would actually exacerbate the problem," said McGurk.

He also described the ongoing cycle of sectarian tension in Iraq. Minority Sunnis are seeking reforms from the Shi'ite-dominated government, but McGurk said violence has made it difficult for Shi'ites and Kurds to support the legislation. As a result, he said, al-Qaida is exploiting the divide with more violence that puts the Sunni-sought reforms "further out of reach."

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said the fighting in Syria is further strengthening al-Qaida, with militants freely moving between the two countries.

McGurk called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "magnet for foreign fighters." He said that as long as Assad remains in power, there will be destructive effects on countries in the region, particularly Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid