Fresh fighting erupts in Iraq

Iraqis say that US troop "surge" is failing, amid continuing fighting.

    More than 60 people were killed in a series
    of attacks across Iraq on Tuesday [AFP]
    Security fears
     
    Despite the US military's claim that thousands of extra troops are helping to bring stability to Iraq, civilians say that they are living in constant danger.
     
    "There is no improvement in Baghdad on the security level," Assad, a government employee, told Owen Fay, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Iraqi capital.
     
    "We hear about it on TV, but on the ground we don't feel anything. No services, no security in the streets. All of it is getting worse, despite what we hear in the media."
     
    Sabah, a taxi driver working in Baghdad, told our correspondent that that the Iraqi administration and security services were doing more than the US to improve their lives.
     
    "The credit belongs to the government with the help of the [Sunni] Awakening councils, the Iraqi army and the police in increasing the security here," he said.
     
    'Definitive victory'
     
    Meanwhile on Wednesday, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, said he was sure that al-Qaeda in Iraq and other armed groups would be defeated by the Iraqi army. 
     
    "We are determined to defeat terrorism," he told the European parliament's foreign affairs committee.

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    "We are more confident than ever that we are close to a definitive victory over al-Qaeda and its lawless allies."

    Al-Maliki said that al-Qaeda was in a state of "total isolation" in Iraq and seeking "refuge beyond the borders" in neighbouring nations, which he urged to do everything possible to stop them.
     
    But the bombings in Baquba, Ramadi and Baghdad on Tuesday seemed to go against his claims, and those of the US military, that the threat of violence from Sunni fighters was diminishing.

    The series of bombings were the bloodiest day in Iraq since March 6, when a twin bombing killed 68 people in the central Baghdad district of Karradah.
     
    In a challenge to al-Maliki's claim that the Iraqi army is isolating al-Qaeda in Iraq, a spokesman for al-Qaeda in Iraq called on Tuesday for Sunnis to abandon the "army and polices forces".
     
    Omar al-Baghdadi offered "amnesty to the sons of Sunni tribes and those in the Awakening militias [to those who] turn their arms against the government and the occupiers."
     
    Al-Baghdadi's statement suggests that al-Qaeda in Iraq is looking to boost its faltering influence in Sunni areas of the country, particularly where US-supported Sunni Awakening councils are in operation.

    Basra air raid
    The air raid in Basra on Wednesday comes amid clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia armed groups in the south of the country.
     
    Major Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, confirmed that an air raid had taken place on Wednesday in northern district of Hayaniyah.
     
    "The coalition forces did conduct an air strike at around 1am [2200GMT Tuesday] in the eastern edge of Hayaniyah after positively identifying an enemy target. The enemy target was an RPG team engaging Iraqi army patrol," he said.

    US warplanes have carried out several strikes in the area over the past few weeks.

    In Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer told the Associated Press that sporadic fighting was continuing in Sadr City. 

    He said that 18 people were also injured in the neighbourhood, including three women and three children.

    The US military on Wednesday announced that two US marines had been killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar province on Monday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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