Spokesman: Iraq Attacks Show al-Qaida Remains as Threat

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2010 — A wave of attacks in Iraq today demon­strates that al-Qai­da in Iraq is still capa­ble of oper­at­ing and is des­per­ate to regain lost momen­tum, the top spokesman for U.S. Forces Iraq told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice today.

“We haven’t seen these types of attacks since May 10,” Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lan­za said in a tele­phone inter­view from Bagh­dad. “This shows there is still capa­bil­i­ty with al-Qai­da here to con­duct oper­a­tions. It also shows their intent or desire to try to rein­sert them­selves, which they have had trou­ble doing in the past.”

Lan­za also con­demned the attacks, which heav­i­ly tar­get­ed police forces, as an attempt to intim­i­date Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces and erode pub­lic con­fi­dence in them as well as the Iraqi gov­ern­ment. He not­ed that last week’s attacks tar­get­ed traf­fic police, and the scope broad­ened today to police forces with­in Iraq’s provin­cial gov­ern­ments.

“I think there’s a desire by the ter­ror­ists and by those who would con­duct these attacks to try to intim­i­date the police,” he said. “They have done a very good job assert­ing them­selves into their jobs, so the police have become a tar­get for the ter­ror­ists.”

This makes it more crit­i­cal than ever that Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces “main­tain pres­sure on the net­work and sus­tain their vig­i­lance in con­duct­ing oper­a­tions against them,” Lan­za said. “There are still going to be chal­lenges in the days ahead,” he said, empha­siz­ing that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq to sup­port Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces even as the U.S. mil­i­tary mis­sion offi­cial­ly changes to an “advise and assist” role under Oper­a­tion New Dawn on Sept. 1.

“It is only the nature of our rela­tion­ship that is chang­ing with the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, not our com­mit­ment to the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces,” he said. “We will con­tin­ue to be here to sup­port them. That is part of our mis­sion here until Decem­ber 2011.

“It is part of our desire to main­tain a strate­gic part­ner­ship with them,” he con­tin­ued. “More impor­tant­ly, we want the Iraqis to suc­ceed.”

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

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