As the world focuses on the Syrian civil war, the use of chemical weapons, and the rise of al Qaeda and Islamist groups, the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, is going largely unnoticed. Violence in Iraq has spiked this year, with a wave of suicide bombings, car bombings, and armed attacks. As al Qaeda focuses energy on Syria, it certainly hasn’t left Iraq behind.
Al Qaeda clearly has the resources to carry out attacks such as today’s, in which five suicide bombers and a multitude of car bombs were used. One attack included a suicide assault team against a police special forces base in Bayji. The al Qaeda fighters entered the perimeter of the base before being gunned down. From Russia Today:
The first bomb exploded next to a tent full of mourners in the Shiite neighborhood. Shortly after, a suicide bomber detonated his device while driving a car near the funeral-goers. A third bomb exploded as police and ambulances arrived at the scene.
“Crowds of people were visiting the tent to offer their condolences when suddenly a powerful blast…threw me to ground,” said 35-year-old Basim Raheem.
“When I tried to get up, a second blast happened. My clothes were covered with blood and human flesh. I thought I was wounded, but later discovered I was lying in a pool of others’ blood,” he added.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Baghdad, in which at least 65 people were killed and 120 others wounded, medics said.
However, the majority of the region’s attacks are carried out by Sunni insurgents with links to Al-Qaeda, who say the Shiite government is discriminating against the country’s Sunni minority.
In a separate incident, at least eight people were killed and 12 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the predominantly Shiite Ur district of the capital, police said.
Four suicide bombers attacked a police special forces base, killing seven and injuring more than 20 security officials in the northern city of Baiji. Police shot one of the militants, although the others managed to enter the base and blow themselves up.
Sadly, attacks such as today’s in Iraq have become commonplace, and the country is dangerously close to slipping back to 2006-2007 levels of violence, when the al Qaeda-led insurgency was at its peak. Deadly bombings and suicide attacks against civilians and at markets and mosques are now an everyday occurrence.
The impact of the US’ inability to negotiate a deal with the Iraqi government to leave behind intelligence, logistics, special operations forces, and air support to continue to assist the Iraqi military post-2011 is now being felt in full. The failure to pursue al Qaeda in Iraq allowed the group to regenerate and launch deadly insurgencies in both Iraq and Syria.