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Militants Attack Army Base Near Mosul

Alex Finkelstein

Armed gunmen attacked an army base in northern Iraq on Saturday killing 20 soldiers. The Iraqi government stationed the troops outside Mosul in response to previous terrorist attacks against an oil pipeline in the area. Saturday’s attack represents a blow to the central government’s efforts to restore stability to Sunni-dominated areas.

According to a medical official, the assailants stormed the barracks, bound several of the soldiers, and then shot them at close range. However, a police major contradicts the medical official’s claim, saying the soldiers were not bound. No group has taken responsibility for the attack, but it closely mirrors a previous attack carried out by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In February, militants raided the same base and killed 15 people.

An image posted on a militant website shows a convoy of vehicles from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq’s Anbar province. (Photo: AP)

ISIL is one of the most powerful Sunni terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda operating out of Iraq’s Anbar province. ISIL controls much of Fallujah even though the Shiite led government in Baghdad launched a campaign several months ago to take back the city.

Elections held on April 30th seem unlikely to give the government new legitimacy in contested areas, politically or militarily. The contest itself was marred by violence; suicide bombers dressed in military uniforms killed several people in various polling stations across the country.

Shiite parties led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will likely win a third term after the election results are announced in a few weeks. Without a plurality of votes, Maliki will have to build a coalition, a step that took 10 months in 2010. But few citizens are confident that any new government will heal sectarian divisions or improve their security. Unfortunately, recent violence shows little sign of abating.