US forces pursue Iraq Shiite insurgents: Panetta

  • MH192’s number three main wheel burst during take off, says Hishammuddin – Bernama
    MH192’s number three main wheel burst during take off, says Hishammuddin – Bernama

    Preliminary investigation findings on the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH192 incident has revealed that the number three main wheel of the aircraft had burst during take off. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) said the aircraft was currently grounded at the MAS Engineering facility in Kuala Lumpur International... …

  • Bible banned from Pahang hotel rooms – Bernama

    The Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MAIP) has prohibited hotel proprietors in the state from placing religious reading materials of other religions other than Islam in their rooms. According to MAIP deputy president, Datuk Seri Wan Abdul Wahid Wan Hassan, a letter of prohibition on the matter had been sent to 147 hotels across the... …

  • Pre-lim report to ICAO not public, yet

    Malaysia has yet to decide on whether the preliminary report on the MH370 incident submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will be made public.   "We have issued the preliminary report. We've sent it to ICAO but we have not made a decision to release to media or the public," Department of Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.   Asked again on why it will not be released to public, although it is common practice, …

  • Take second job to tackle household debt, urges AKPK – Bernama
    Take second job to tackle household debt, urges AKPK – Bernama

    The Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) has urged Malaysians to take a second job to help them tackle the high rate of household debt. Chief executive officer Koid Swee Lian (pic) said those in the teaching line, for example, could give extra classes to earn more money. "Teachers could earn more money by giving tuition to... …

  • International team probing MH370 to be finalised next week, Hishammuddin says
    International team probing MH370 to be finalised next week, Hishammuddin says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Malaysia expects to finalise by next week the list of members on the independent team of experts commissioned by Putrajaya to carry out an extensive probe on the... …

  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders

    Malaysian leaders have been reminded not to look down on the public’s capability to topple a corrupt government as what had happened in the Middle East during the Arab spring, warned Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic). In his latest blog posting today, the country’s longest serving prime minister said that monarchs and dictators in the Middle East... …

American forces are pursuing Iran-backed insurgents in Iraq, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in Baghdad on Monday as US deaths spike nearly a year after US troops formally ended combat operations.

"We have to unilaterally be able to go after those threats. We're doing that," Panetta said.

"We are very concerned about Iran and weapons they're providing to extremists here in Iraq. We lost a heck of a lot of Americans as a result. We can't allow this to continue," he told troops at US Camp Victory near Baghdad airport.

General Lloyd Austin, commander of US military forces in Iraq, told reporters unilateral action "could include a lot of things."

"If there's no way to do that with the Iraqi security forces, then I'll patrol around my perimeter and do what needs to be done to ensure that my troops are protected," he said.

Panetta, who took over on July 1 from Robert Gates, said he would take all steps needed for the safety of the 46,000 US troops still in Iraq, down from a high of 170,000 since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"My first responsibility as secretary of defence is to make sure that I do everything necessary to protect you," Panetta later told NBC News.

Three US soldiers have been killed in Iraq so far this month, the last on Sunday when Panetta arrived in Baghdad from a visit to Afghanistan. June was the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq since 2008, with 14 soldiers killed.

The resumption of attacks against US troops comes as Iraqi leaders approach decision time on whether they want to maintain a contingent of soldiers after 2011 when all US troops are scheduled to pull out.

Panetta said Iraqi security forces must be pushed to take action against the Shiite groups. US forces had carried out both joint operations with the Iraqis as well as unilateral missions against militants.

"The effort here obviously has to be to push the Iraqis to take on responsibility of going after some of these Shiite groups, going after those who use those kind of weapons," Panetta said.

He called for "pressure on Iran not to engage in this kind of behaviour."

Tehran has denied US accusations of smuggling weapons to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The United States is not in a good position in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are doing everything they can to maintain their military presence in these two countries," Iran's state television website quoted foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

In meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki later on Monday, Panetta encouraged them to be "more aggressive" against all extremist groups, his spokesman said.

"He made clear that we're neither pressuring nor pleading for US troops to stay here and that time is running out for a decision," Doug Wilson told reporters.

He said Panetta also had stressed for Maliki to speedily appoint ministers of interior and defence -- which he has failed to do since forming a unity government in December, and amid infighting among political groups.

"The secretary feels that he made progress on a clear understanding of the situation from them," Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Austin said insurgents were using more lethal weapons, and using them more effectively.

"Their targeting process is maturing," he said.

"They're working harder and harder to try to perfect their ability to target," Austin added, saying they were getting better training, presumably from Iran.

Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for US forces in Iraq, last month identified the Iran-backed groups as Ketaeb Hezbollah, Asaib Ahel al-Haq and the Promised Day Brigade.

The latter is directly linked to Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical, anti-American Shiite cleric who divides his time between Iran and the city of Najaf in southern Iraq.

The other two groups are offshoots of Sadr's now-disbanded Mahdi Army, which fought against Iraqi and US-led coalition forces between 2004 and 2007, and which has been identified by the Pentagon as the main threat to stability.

Colin Kahl, a Panetta adviser, told reporters US forces retained the right to carry out combat operations in Iraq. "We have self-defence authorities under the security agreement (with Iraq) to take on our own measures," he said.

US forces formally declared an end to combat missions last August.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • The Poop on Pooping: 5 Misconceptions Explained LiveScience.com

    Here is the truth behind five common misconceptions about defecating. Misconception No. 1: Daily pooping is normal, and optimal. …

  • Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears The Malaysian Insider
    Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears

    The son of former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik today reached an out of court settlement with his ex-girlfriend in a breach of contract suit over seven properties registered under their joint names. Ling Hee Leong and businesswoman Teh Chee Yen agreed to settle out of court after he took the stand briefly and testified that he had chosen... …