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Iraq attacks raise questions about US withdrawal

Violence reduced over the summer, but attacks surged in Baghdad and Ninewa Province and some US bases since American troops withdrew from the cities.

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Daily attacks in Baghdad and Iraq's Ninewa Province are increasing, according to the Pentagon. The spurt comes as experts worry that the Obama White House is neglecting the mission there, where 130,000 American troops still remain.

Baghdad and Ninewa Province averaged five to six attacks per day this past summer, compared with about four attacks per day in the spring, according to Pentagon spokesman Maj. Shawn Turner. These areas typically see some of the worst violence in Iraq.

Overall, violence in the country has fallen by 18 percent from the spring, he says.

But Al Qaeda has attempted to increase its presence in the north, and commanders have long cited the Ninewa region as one of the most challenging. Baghdad, Iraq's capital and largest city, has been rocked by two major attacks in recent weeks after the Iraqi government took down concrete barriers and American troops pulled out of the cities June 30.

Insurgents there are still using vehicle-born improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks as their weapons of choice, says Turner.

Mission not over?

"Many areas in Iraq remain dangerous," acknowledged Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, the commander for day-to-day operations in Iraq, citing four recent American fatalities.

It's too soon to tell if an accelerated drawdown of US forces from Iraq could occur until after the elections in January, he said at a press briefing Thursday, adding, "It is important to remember that our mission is not complete."

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