WASHINGTON — The United States insisted Thursday that an increasingly tense Iraq would be able to overcome attacks like the “heinous” rash of strikes that killed 67 people earlier in the day.
The attacks took place less than a week after the last US soldiers left Iraq, and as US leaders insisted they left behind a stable and sovereign nation nine years after launching a war to oust Saddam Hussein.
“Iraq has suffered heinous attacks like this in the past, and its security forces have shown they are up to the task of responding and maintaining stability,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
“Time and again, the Iraqi people have shown their resilience in overcoming efforts to divide them. We continue to urge leaders to come together to face common challenges.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the attacks were “desperate attempts by terrorist groups to undermine Iraq at this vulnerable juncture in the Iraqi political process.”
He added that the events “highlight just how critical it is that Iraq’s leaders act quickly to resolve their differences and move forward as a united and inclusive government.”
Carney said that Vice President Joe Biden had called Iraqi President Jalal Talabani after Thursday’s bombings to offer full US support, following his recent calls to other Iraqi leaders.
More than a dozen Baghdad attacks — the deadliest in more than four months — mostly targeted Shiite neighborhoods and came amid a simmering political row that has raised communal tensions.
Days before the bombings, the Shiite-led government in Baghdad had issued an arrest warrant on terror charges against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a prominent Sunni leader.
Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has demanding that Kurdish authorities hand over Hashemi, who is holed up in their autonomous region, to face terror charges. Hashemi denies the allegations.