Reports point to Syria-bound al-Qaeda that are currently moving through Iraq to take up positions near Syrian border
Sameer N. Yacoub
March 6, 2012
BAGHDAD — A gang of gunmen disguised in military-style uniforms and carrying forged arrest warrants killed 25 police officers Monday, then hoisted the battle flag of al-Qaeda in a carefully planned early morning attack in western Iraq, officials said.
The killings in Haditha highlight the success of al-Qaeda-linked militants in regaining a foothold in an area they once dominated through police executions and the killings of city officials.
By going after police, the militants demonstrate to the residents of Haditha, a desert city closer to the Syrian border than to Baghdad, how isolated they are from the central government’s protection and intimidate those who want to join the security forces.
The city’s proximity to the border, 65 miles away, means it is vital territory for the militants if they want to ramp up operations in Syria to help overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Already, Sunni fighters who revile Assad because he belongs to an offshoot religion of Shiism are crossing into Syria.