U.S. intelligence officials tracking the situation in Syria have their eye on one group in particular: al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq.
The group has longstanding ties to Syria, and its early members weren't just Iraqis; many of them were Syrians. The former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, not only established a network of fighters in Syria, but he also folded them into his northern Iraqi faction of al-Qaida.
An Iraqi policeman inspects a destroyed vehicle at the site of a blast in the northern city of Kirkuk earlier today (Feb. 23, 2012).
Credit Marwan Ibrahim / AFP/Getty Images
"A rapid series of attacks spread over a wide swath of Iraqi territory killed at least 50 people on Thursday, targeting mostly security forces in what appeared to be another strike by al-Qaida militants bent on destabilizing the country," The Associated Press reports.
The $750 million embassy building is the largest of its kind in the world and the Times adds that a major cut in staffing just two months after American troops withdrew from the country signals a "declining American influence."
People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Zafaraniyah, <a></a>Baghdad, Iraq on Friday. A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car near a funeral procession killing and injuring dozens of Iraqis, police said.
Credit Khalid Mohammed / AP
Using an explosives packed car, a suicide bomber killed 32 people near a funeral possession in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah in Baghdad.
The AP reports that about 65 people were wounded and most of the people killed were police escorting the funeral.