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Iraqi Deputy PM: 'Cohesive Society' Needed To Fight Al-Qaeda

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlaq (file photo)
WASHINGTON -- Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlaq says national unity is needed in Iraq to fight the growing strength of Al-Qaeda.

Mutlaq made the comments January 14 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, where he also called for help from the United States in the fight against terrorism.

"It is the responsibility of the world who decided to invade Iraq at that time [in 2003] to stand for Iraq and help Iraq in such a moment," he said.

He added that Iraq needs help from the United States "to advise your friends in Iraq on national reconciliation."

"Weapons alone cannot do the job," he said. "It is important, but [they] cannot do the job. We have to [move] in parallel to strengthen the Iraqi Army plus create reconciliation in the country."

Mutlaq's visit to Washington comes amid an escalation of fighting between Iraqi security forces and militants in recent weeks.

As he was speaking in Washington, Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the central Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah destroyed two Iraqi Army tanks and captured some police stations.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported that the militants recaptured the Al-Thubbat police station in Ramadi and also have control of the southern part of the city.

Meanwhile, government forces and some Sunni tribesmen continue to battle Al-Qaeda-linked fighters and against other Sunni tribesmen in several parts of Anbar Province.

According to RFI the fighting forced more than 800 families to take refuge in about 15 schools in the province.

The Reuters news agency presumed that the militants destroyed two Iraqi tanks while blowing up a highway bridge near Saqlawiyah, north of Fallujah.

In western Anbar, Iraq's military said it killed eight gunmen belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant near the Trebil border crossing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to Baghdad on January 14 that Tehran supports Iraq "in its war against terrorism."

With reporting by Radio Free Iraq, Reuters and AP
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