Iraqi Security Forces Respond to Bomb Attacks

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2011 — Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces are han­dling the country’s response to a spate of ter­ror­ist bomb­ing attacks, a Defense Depart­ment spokesman said here today.
“The Iraqis have not asked us for assis­tance, and we are still on our time­line to draw down by the end of the year,” Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said.

An al-Qai­da affil­i­ate is sus­pect­ed to be behind attacks in Tikrit and Kar­bala. Offi­cials in Bagh­dad said attacks in the holy city of Kar­bala tar­get­ed Shi­ia Mus­lims mak­ing a pil­grim­age to one of their most sacred shrines.

The attacks are the most spec­tac­u­lar in a spike of vio­lence since the new Iraqi gov­ern­ment formed. The attack in Tikrit tar­get­ed police recruits, with a sui­cide bomber killing 60 peo­ple and wound­ing hun­dreds of oth­ers. Bombs went off at secu­ri­ty check­points at the north­ern and south­ern gates of Kar­bala, killing 45 peo­ple and wound­ing 110 oth­ers. The bomb­ings fol­low weeks of rel­a­tive calm in the coun­try.

“We don’t see this as a trend,” Lapan said. “It is more in line with what we’ve talked about: There will be times when there are these spec­tac­u­lar attacks that are per­pe­trat­ed to try to derail the process.”

About 47,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. Almost all are involved with train­ing, advis­ing and assist­ing Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces. The plan is to keep the troops in their advise-and-assist role so Iraqi forces can get the ben­e­fit of this train­ing, offi­cials in Bagh­dad said. The end of 2011 will see an accel­er­a­tion of U.S. troops leav­ing the coun­try, offi­cials added.

A few Amer­i­can troops will be assigned to the Office of Secu­ri­ty Coop­er­a­tion in the U.S. Embassy in Bagh­dad, offi­cials in Bagh­dad said. No for­mal talks are under way to keep U.S. units in Iraq after the Dec. 31 dead­line for all U.S. com­bat forces to be out of Iraq.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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