‘U.S. Presence in Iraq Favors Qaeda’
17 Apr 09 | PTV
Iraq’s Defense Ministry rules out any change in the US withdrawal plan despite concerns over rising al-Qaeda attacks targeting security forces.
In an interview with AFP on Friday, Iraq’s Defense Ministry Spokesman, Mohammed al-Askari, warned, “al-Qaeda is trying to regain power through terrorist operations aimed at proving its existence and raising its spirits ahead of the withdrawal of US forces from the cities.”
Askari said a prolonged US military presence in the country would paradoxically favor al-Qaeda by giving the militants enough excuse to justify their terrorist acts.
“It would be good for al-Qaeda if US forces stayed in Iraq, because they could justify their kidnappings, bombings and killings,” he noted.
Under a US-Iraqi security pact signed in November — far later than an expected time in summer — the 140,000 US troops currently stationed in Iraq must leave all cities and major towns by June 30 and fully pull out of Iraqi soil by the end of 2011.
The remarks follow almost 11 days after a sharp rise in explosions and bomb attacks in major Iraqi cities, targeting Baghdad above all.
This is while, early on Friday, three mortar rounds landed on houses in a suburb of Baghdad, killing three people and leaving more injured.
Dozens of Iraqi soldiers were also killed on Thursday when an undercover bomber blew himself up in a heavily guarded military compound at Habbaniyah, west of Baghdad.
On Wednesday, a car bomb ripped through a police convoy in the northern city of Kirkuk.
At least 86 have been killed since the start of the month, in what is seen as al-Qaeda-linked violence across the country.