Al Qaeda Hits West Iraq

Taking advantage of the conflict between the Sunni minority and the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki, al Qaeda militants in western Iraq cities on Thursday launched attacks on police stations and fought with government forces. Following outrage over the arrest of a prominent Sunni, the government withdrew forces from Anbar province cities, creating a vacuum that al Qaeda militants seized on. Violence in the country has worsened recently, and 2013 was the bloodiest for Iraqi civilians in five years.