The series of bombings that hit Iraq Monday bear the markings of Al Qaeda, but in the long term, Iran-backed militias are a greater problem, says a top US military official.
Amid the volatile Arab Spring and ongoing security threats in Iraq, top US military officials have expressed openness to keeping troops on the ground past the Dec. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
The US military has raised its concerns with senior Iraqi officials about why US forces were not consulted on an operation to arrest 38 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an Al Qaeda affiliate.
The four Iraqi prisoners were among some 200 at a maximum-security facility guarded by US troops. They were discovered missing Wednesday night.
In what appears to be the first attack on US soldiers after the official end of combat operations, a man thought to be an Iraqi Army soldier killed two American soldiers and wounded nine others.