The US appears desperate to keep troops in Iraq beyond this year's deadline. The Iraqis? Not so much.
The attack, the deadliest on US troops in Iraq in more than two years, comes months before US forces are slated to exit. The Pentagon has signaled time is short for Iraq to request that troops remain.
US troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, but Prime MInister Maliki said he is considering seeking an agreement that would allow them to stay longer.
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.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he may extend the Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline if at least 70 percent of Iraq's political leadership back the idea.
The remarks, which included warnings of the increasingly volatile Middle East, follow renewed warnings by Moqtada al-Sadr that he would reactivate his militia if US forces extend their stay.
Hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied thousands of followers Saturday. Their message: United States civilians as well as troops must leave by the end of the year.
Iraqi officials warned that the protest, which organizers hope will draw 1 million people, could turn violent in what was widely seen as an attempt to limit turnout.