BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister put his nation on its highest level of alert for terror attacks, warning of plots to sow fear and chaos as the U.S. combat mission in the country formally ends on Tuesday.
The Iraqi security forces who will be left in charge have been hammered by bomb attacks, prompting fears of a new insurgent offensive and criticism of the government’s preparedness to protect its people.
In a statement to state-run television, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraqi intelligence indicated an al-Qaida front group and members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party are collaborating to launch attacks “to create fear and chaos and kill more innocents.”
“We direct the Iraqi forces, police and army and other security forces, to take the highest alert and precautionary measures to foil this criminal planning,” al-Maliki said in the statement issued late Friday.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official on Saturday said security forces believe suicide bombers have entered the country with plans to strike unspecified targets in Baghdad by month’s end.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, used his weekly radio address to reaffirm his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan as home to the top threats against America.
“The bottom line is this: The war is ending,” Obama said. “Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course.”
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