Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Syrian Violence Increases, Iraq Violence decreases

Sahar Issa, at McClatchy Newspaper's Baghdad bureau, writes that according to the Iraqi government, terrorist related violence in Iraq has sharply decreased over the past few months, especially in the northern province of Ninewah, which has a long border with Syria.  This is widely attributed to a migration of al-Qaeda-esque foot soldiers to Syria, where Assad's army has been facing battles with armed fighters since the early summer of 2011.  The prominence of al-Qaeda style attacks within Syria has grown greatly in recent months, with car bombings in Syria's two largest cities, first on the morning of December 23rd, when two cars exploded outside of government security buildings in Damascus, killing 40, then on February 10th, when an Aleppo police station was hit by another two car bombs, killing 28.  Only two days after the Aleppo attacks, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda, released a video calling for Muslim's across the region to go fight against the Assad regime.    
     In northwest Iraq and its capital of Mosul, the result of this is a new found freedom from terrorist bombings.  Only last year Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, was home to as many as 800 al-Qaeda fighters, according to US government officials.  A Ninewah-based Iraqi officer interviewed by McClatchy claims that now "Violence is down in Mosul, maybe one or two operations per day, sometimes none," and that in the rest of the province  "violence is down more than 50 percent since autumn of 2011, and much more than that if compared with an earlier date, like autumn of 2010."  

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