Source AP ©

Iraq expects hard holy Ramadan month

Several battalions were formed to intensify suicide attacks against U.S. and Iraqi government targets in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent coalition that includes al-Qaida said.

In a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, the Islamic State of Iraq said the "War Ministry" decided to form special battalions for martyrdom seekers "to pound the bastions of the crusaders and their renegade tails" in Iraq.

"These battalions, with God's help, will perform their duties in an excellent manner during the month of Ramadan and the enemies of God will suffer a lot," the statement said. Last Ramadan, al-Qaida also urged its followers to step up attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the month of Ramadan has seen a spike in violence - especially suicide attacks - in part because some Islamic extremists believe those who die in combat for a holy cause during the period are especially blessed.

The statement said "most of the martyr seekers of these blessed battalions will be from the Ansar (Iraqi) brothers."

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but it was published by an Islamic Web forum that usually carries announcements by militant groups.

Al-Qaida in Iraq is blamed for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Shiite Muslim civilians, as well as numerous attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and police.

The announcement is believed to be aimed at countering what the statement described as "media reports that the mujahideen have been weakened and their attacks were curtailed."

Sunni tribal leaders in some major towns, angry over the movement's attempt to monopolize power and mandate a strict Islamic lifestyle, have turned against al-Qaida and, with U.S. support, have defeated the militants forcing them out of their areas.

"Don't believe the crusaders' information system that is only good at spreading lies and blackout the information. ... America's face, with God's favor, has been marred by disgrace in the lowest level," the statement said.

The statement said the new battalions were named "The Battalions of Martyr Abu Omar al-Kurdi," which it said was one of the early leaders that "taught the enemies of God bitter lessons."

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