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."
Last week, Israeli authorities refused a request to release Attallah from prison
The move came as Israel extended detention of 16-year-old girl Ahed al-Tamimi
‘We do not have people operating in Afrin, so that does not have a direct effect on what we are doing’, spokesman says
Arguments in case expected in April, final ruling expected by June
Sergey Lavrov, Ayman Safadi meet in New York, according to Russian Foreign Ministry statement
Police confirm detention of Turks without providing reason for move
Congress fails to reach agreement on short-term stopgap funding
Xi's eponymous "thought" was already enshrined in the Communist Party constitution at the 19th Party Congress in October, elevating him to the same status as modern China's founder Mao Zedong.
Separate roadside bombings in both provinces left three civilians dead, say security sources
Mexico rejects claim, calling it 'manifestly false'
Supporters not deterred by president’s antics, performance
Republican leadership eyes Thursday vote on stopgap bill, but passage is uncertain without Democratic support
The head of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and the chief of the intelligence agency are also blacklisted, diplomatic sources said, making them subject to asset freezes and travel bans.
Army frequently carries out sweeping arrest campaigns in occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem
Icy roads contribute to at least 4 fatalities, fifth death attributed to exposure