By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
“The Iraqis have not asked us for assistance, and we are still on our timeline to draw down by the end of the year,” Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said.
An al-Qaida affiliate is suspected to be behind attacks in Tikrit and
. Officials in Karbala said attacks in the holy city of Baghdad targeted Shiia Muslims making a pilgrimage to one of their most sacred shrines. Karbala
The attacks are the most spectacular in a spike of violence since the new Iraqi government formed. The attack in Tikrit targeted police recruits, with a suicide bomber killing 60 people and wounding hundreds of others. Bombs went off at security checkpoints at the northern and southern gates of
, killing 45 people and wounding 110 others. Karbala
The bombings follow weeks of relative calm in the country.
“We don’t see this as a trend,” Lapan said. “It is more in line with what we’ve talked about: There will be times when there are these spectacular attacks that are perpetrated to try to derail the process.”
troops remain in U.S. . Almost all are involved with training, advising and assisting Iraqi security forces. The plan is to keep the troops in their advise-and-assist role so Iraqi forces can get the benefit of this training, officials in Iraq said. The end of 2011 will see an acceleration of Baghdad troops leaving the country, officials added. U.S.
A few American troops will be assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation in the U.S. Embassy in