Iraq's main Sunni Muslim insurgent groups have rejected laying down their arms to join the political process and will keep fighting, nearly three months after the last U.S. troops withdrew, a senior security official and group leaders said.
Many Shi'ite and Sunni armed groups have laid down their weapons since U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq in mid-December. But six prominent Sunni armed groups say they will fight on to drive the last Americans from Iraqi soil and topple "the occupation government".
"These groups are still fighting and still active, they continue to carry arms," said Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi. "(They are active) in all Iraq, and are stationed in Mosul, Diyala, Anbar, Salahuddin, Baghdad, Babil, and some on the outskirts of Basra and Kut."
The provinces he named are mainly in the north and centre of the country where most of Iraq's Sunni minority is concentrated, but also include Sunni regions in the heavily Shi'ite south.
The groups include Iraq wing, the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, the Islamic Army, the Mujahedeen Army, the Rashideen Army and Ansar al-Sunnah, Asadi said.
The United States withdrew its troops in December nearly nine years after the invasion.
Iraq still houses the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy in the world, with about 2,000 diplomats and, as of last year, 14,000 contractors.
The Islamic Army in Iraq, composed of Sunni Arabs and former Iraqi army officers whose aim was to end U.S. military presence and influence in Iraq, said it would keep fighting as long as the effects of U.S. occupation were still being felt.
"We are happy to declare the defeat of the occupation but the occupation has a project and the effects of this project still exist," said Ibrahim al-Shimari, the spokesman of the Islamic Army.
"We are continuing to defend the Iraqi people and this weapon is the guarantee of the security of the Iraqi people."
The Islamic Army is a member of the Political Council of the Iraqi Armed Resistance which consists of several armed groups which reject the government and say it must be toppled.
"Let there be an Iraqi government that works for all the Iraqi people without discrimination, then the situation will change," Shimari said. "Now, this government is a government of sect not people, so our situation is valid."
"The occupier has not left"
Washington is preparing to cut back its diplomatic presence, which includes a vast, heavily-fortified embassy compound on the banks of the Tigris in central Baghdad and consulates in Basra, Arbil and Kirkuk.
Iraqi Sunni insurgents describe the U.S. presence is as an extention of the military occupation and say targeting it is therefore legitimate.
"The occupier has not left, they left an embassy which includes thousands of persons, and certainly those are not diplomats," Sheikh Khalid al-Ansari, a senior leader with the al-Rashideen Army, said. "We will keep fighting to drive the last U.S. soldier from Iraqi soil."
Ansari said his group will keep targeting embassy buildings, military bases that host the contractors and consulates.
"They are living in fortified areas which makes the access to them difficult but we will reach them by rockets," Ansari said. "Even the contractors who live with the Iraqi Army in its bases, we will target them."
Berlin sends military experts to Erbil to explore ways of better supporting peshmerga troops against ISIL
Opposition commander says more sophisticated weapons needed to defeat ISIL in Syrian Kurdish town Kobani
Israeli authorities closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex – for the first time since 1967 – and gunned down a Palestinian suspected of killing a rabbi
Tambuwal defected from the ruling party to the opposition on Wednesday
Hickox, who tested negative for the virus after returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, said that she plans to take the issue to court if Maine did not lift the quarantine
Eyewitnesses said scores of Palestinian students had hurled stones and empty bottles at an Israeli position near Birzeit, a town in northern Ramallah.
The 50 detainees were mainly Syrian but included nine Lebanese and one Palestinian, an army statement said.
Sunday's clashes raised fears of violent youths with no political agenda joining forces with a racist group.
The controversial government-proposed amendment would increase to three the maximum number of five-year presidential terms available to a single individual, opening the door for Compaore – in power since 1987 – to seek reelection next year.
Ministry spokesman Al-Bozum said that some of the names cited by the Egyptian media belonged to residents of the occupied West Bank who had never crossed into Gaza.
With no outright majority, Nidaa Tounes will seek to form a coalition with partners in negotiations that will likely last weeks before a new government is set up
Harun P. travelled to Syria at the end of September 2013 and became a member of the group, which trained and armed him, the prosecutor's statement said.
The Free Syrian Army is critical in the fight against ISIL, Syrian National Coalition leader Hadi al-Bahra said
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly complained of alleged covert U.S. and Israeli attempts to cripple its nuclear programme.
Special rapporteur expresses concern over conflicts with ethnic rebels, situation of Rohingya, media reforms, next year’s election
Twenty-six trucks loaded with construction supplies – including four carrying cement – entered the coastal strip