Al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq clashed with the country's security forces Thursday, the second attack this week in what al Qaeda in Iraq's leader has depicted as a new offensive aimed at recapturing lost ground.In a related development, the Times reported on Friday:
At least 12 people were killed in an attack in Diyala province, including five Iraqi policemen and seven militants, police said. The Associated Press reported that an Iraqi helicopter was shot down in the attack, but Iraqi officials said it had only been damaged...
"This is a setback because we are worried about the capacity of Iraqi forces in the face of the growing strength of al Qaeda," said Blaer Hassan, a provincial security official in Diyala.
On Sunday, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq... announced that an offensive was about to begin in which the insurgents would seek to regain ground they had held in Iraq before U.S. forces helped oust them.
The next day, the group began a coordinated series of at least 40 attacks that killed more than 100 people throughout Iraq.
Fifteen neighborhood officials in the Iraqi city of Baquba have resigned to protest what they said was the government's inability to protect them from Al Qaeda infiltrators, Iraqi officials said Friday.Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on Monday, President Obama stated that, "Four years ago..., I pledged to end the war in Iraq honorably, and that’s what we’ve done... We brought our troops home responsibly. They left... knowing they gave Iraqis a chance to forge their own future."
The development was yet another indication in the past week of efforts by Al Qaeda to stage a resurgence in Iraq.
On Friday, an official... confirmed the resignations, saying the 15 officials, known as mukhtars, had left office in recent days "to save their family members' lives because of living under threats from Al Qaeda and militants."
Mukhtars are representatives elected in each neighborhood in Iraqi communities, and they act as liaisons between residents and the government...
The City Council official said that eight mukhtars had been assassinated in Baquba this year in Al Qaeda's effort to control neighborhoods... In addition, seven family members were killed in those attacks, he said.