The Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, said it is honoring the month of Ramadan with a new blessed foray of violence in the country, claiming responsibility for Monday's attacks that killed at least 116, wounded at least 300.
The Ministry of War has mobilized its sons and mujahideen brigades and their military groups in a new blessed foray in the holy month of Ramadan, said the ISI statement that was initially posted on an Islamist website and translated by Reuters.
The coordinated attacks were aimed at taunting Shi'ites and Kurds into another spiral of inter-Muslim violence in a country that averted sectarian civil war six years ago. Meanwhile, Syrians as well as Iraqis that had fled their country during the height of violence in Iraq in 2006 are now fleeing into makeshift refugee camps on the Iraqi side of the border.
Al-Qaeda militants, who identify as Sunni, struck Monday the predominantly Kurdish cities of Kirkuk and Mosul to the north, the village of Taji, and a Shi'ite district in Baghdad. In all 35 attacks -- shootings, car and roadside bombs and in-the-street assassinations -- took place in seven of the 18 Iraqi provinces.
Kurds are viewed by Sunni Islamist militants as pro-Western and largely secular. Tensions among lawmakers from the two Muslim branches and Kurdish delegates have intensified in the country's legislature in recent months.
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been unable to solidify a government. Key cabinet chairs remain empty and support for the premiere is waning.
They promised us that violence would end when American troops leave Iraq, but on the contrary, things are getting worse, college student Khalid Nima told CNN on Monday. This is not the country where I want to plan for my future.
The previous deadliest day of the year in Iraq occurred on June 13, when 93 people were killed in a similar string of violence. June was the bloodiest month in Iraq since the U.S. full withdrawal in October; at least 237 people were killed and another 603 were wounded.
The specter of Al-Qaeda escalating attacks in Iraq comes as the civil war in neighboring Syria is also intensifying. While the Free Syria Army, or FSA, is taking center stage as the primary rebel force.
But Al-Qaeda and other Islamist militants in Syria are trying to make the internally fight against Bashar al Assad's Ba'athist government a regional struggle to form an Islamic state.
We have experience now fighting the Americans, and more experience now with the Syrian revolution, Abu Thuha, a 56-year-old Al-Qaeda operative told the New York Times in a story published Wednesday about growing concerns that Islamist militant groups are attempting to hijack and broaden Syria's civil war.