BAGHDAD, Iraq — The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Sunday that American intelligence reports suggest Iran has attempted to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in an effort to derail a bilateral agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year.
Gen. Ray Odierno said Iran is working publicly and covertly to undermine the status-of-forces agreement as officials from Iraq and the United States report nearing a deal that must be ratified by Iraq's parliament.
"Clearly, this is one they're having a full-court press on to try to ensure there's never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq," Odierno said. "We know that there are many relationships with people here for many years going back to when Saddam was in charge, and I think they're utilizing those contacts to attempt to influence the outcome of the potential vote in the council of representatives."
Odierno said he had no definitive proof of the bribes but added, "there are many intelligence reports" that suggest Iranians are "coming in to pay off people to vote against it." The reports have not been made public.
The U.N. resolution that sanctions the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq expires Dec. 31.
Violence: Suicide car bombers struck twice in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least six people and wounding dozens of others, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A car bomb in Baghdad killed seven people. Two Iraqi soldiers were killed by snipers in separate attacks Sunday in the capital's Yarmouk district, police said. The series of attacks shows the ongoing security challenges facing Iraq as the U.S. shifts responsibility to the country's own soldiers and police following a sharp decline in violence since last year.
Security: The government announced new security measures to protect Christians in Mosul after a spate of attacks against them by Sunni religious extremists. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said Sunday that the government was taking new measures to protect Mosul's Christians, including more police in their neighborhoods and more checkpoints and patrols near churches.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.