Iraq is more dangerous than it was one year ago, a senior United States official has revealed. The official, U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen, accused the military of attempting to hide the issue.
Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work. It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago, Bowen wrote in a report to the Obama administration and Congress.
U.S. officials have committed to withdrawing troops from Iraq in five months, unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top leaders ask them to stay. Al-Maliki postponed a meeting scheduled Saturday to discuss the matter.
Roughly 46,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq. Fifteen soldiers were killed in fighting in June, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since April 2009.
Bowen noted the high casualty rate in June, and also the increase in rocket attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad, a heavily guarded area home to government offices and foreign embassies. In addition, recent months have seen many assassination attempts targeting Iraqi politicians, judges, and security officers, and several major cities were hit by mass casualty suicide attacks.
Shiite militias possibly armed and trained by Iran were responsible for some of the lethal attacks, he wrote.
U.S. military leaders have attempted to brush aside the recent increase in violence, Bowen accused. He pointed to a recent report describing the situation in Iraq as very positive when compared to 2007, one of the bloodiest years of the conflict.
The military leaders said in response that a temporary increase in violence had been expected. Shiite terrorist groups are targeting troops prior to withdrawal because they want to give the impression that they forced U.S. troops out of the country, they explained.
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