“We are more confident than ever that we are close to a definitive victory over al-Qaeda and its lawless allies.”
Al-Maliki said that al-Qaeda was in a state of “total isolation” in Iraq and seeking “refuge beyond the borders” in neighbouring nations, which he urged to do everything possible to stop them.
However, the bombings in Baquba, Ramadi and Baghdad on Tuesday seemed to go against his claims, and those of the US military, that the threat of violence from Sunni fighters was diminishing.
It was the deadliest series of bombings in Iraq since March 6, when a twin bombing killed 68 people in a crowded shopping district in the central Baghdad district of Karradah.
Basra air raid
Major Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, confirmed that an air raid had taken place on Wednesday in northern district of Hayaniyah, where Shia fighters have been battling security forces since March 25.
“The coalition forces did conduct an air strike at around 1am [2200GMT Tuesday] in the eastern edge of Hayaniyah after positively identifying an enemy target. The enemy target was an RPG team engaging Iraqi army patrol,” he said.
US warplanes have carried out several strikes in the area over the past few weeks.
In Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer told the Associated Press that sporadic fighting was continuing in Sadr City.
He said that 18 people were also injured in the neighbourhood, including three women and three children.
The US military on Wednesday announced that two US marines had been killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar province on Monday.