Iraqi Pipeline Attacks Raise Fears of Threat to Oil

From UPI

Fifteen soldiers were killed this week guarding an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, the first assault to involve so many casualties amid concerns an al-Qaida insurgency in western Iraq is spreading to vital oil-producing regions.

Iraqi security authorities said Tuesday’s attack on the camp in Nineveh province took place the same day that Iraqi security forces captured three al-Qaida suspects as they tried to blow up a pipeline near the northern Kirkuk oilfields, which hold about a third of Iraq’s oil reserves of 431 billion barrels. Twin pipelines that carry Kirkuk’s oil production to Turkey’s Ceyhan terminal on the Mediterranean for export are a frequent target for saboteurs.

Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraqi’s deputy prime minister for energy, told reporters in Baghdad Jan. 28 Iraq’s oil industry, the country’s economic lifeline, is increasingly coming under attack because of the civil war in neighboring Syria in which Iraqi jihadists are battling the regime of President Bashar Assad.

One of the largest rebel forces is the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni offshoot of al-Qaida in Iraq, which is also waging an escalating campaign inside Iraq against the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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