The United Nations Security Council has condemned the recent large number of attacks in Iraq, as the head of the U.N. mission there highlighted the need to address the threat of terrorism and resolve the crisis in neighboring Syria.
Special Representative for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov addressed the council on Monday, and said that the most pressing challenge for the country is the deteriorating security situation.
"It is compounded by political deadlock. It is readily exploited by terrorists and armed groups who target civilians with the intention of inciting sectarian hatred and undermining the government and the country's elected authorities," said Mladenov.
Mladenov also told the council that terrorists are trying to make parts of Iraq "ungovernable" and create a cycle of violence similar to the one the country experienced between 2006 and 2008.
The U.N. mission in Iraq estimates that nearly 9,000 civilians and Iraqi security forces have been killed since July, in what has been the deadliest year since 2008.
Mladenov said cross-border ties between extremist groups and the ongoing violence in Syria are widening the impact of sectarian tensions.
"Today, more than ever, Iraq's challenges cannot be considered in isolation from the broader risks that face the region. Resolving the Syrian crisis through an inclusive national project and adopting a regional strategy against all forms of religious and sectarian extremism is vital to bringing stability to Iraq," said Mladenov.
He cited both Monday's announcement that a Syrian peace conference will be held next year and the interim agreement on Iran's nuclear program as steps that will have a positive impact on the region.
The United Nations says more than 200,000 Syrian refugees are now living in Iraq, mostly in the northern Kurdistan region. Mladenov called attention to the humanitarian pressure facing Iraq, which is one of several neighboring countries coping with taking in millions of Syrian refugees.