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Khalid Mohammed  /  AP
More than 100 people were killed in bomb blasts the same day the U.S. military warned Iraqi officials about possible attacks in Baghdad.
updated 12/14/2009 11:27:05 AM ET 2009-12-14T16:27:05

The U.S. military confirmed Monday it had warned Iraqi officials about possible attacks in Baghdad the same day bombers struck government sites in the country's capital.

The U.S. military stopped short, though, of saying the intelligence provided to the Iraqis gave any insight into specific details of last week's attacks that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500.

Tuesday's bombings were the third such large-scale attacks in Baghdad since August.

"While the information did address possible attacks that day, there was no specific actionable intelligence that correlated the threat ... to these attacks," Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a military spokesman, said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

Ballesteros' statement confirmed what Iraq's top security chiefs have told lawmakers in hearings in parliament this week — that they were tipped off Tuesday by the U.S. military, hours before suicide bombers struck government sites.

According to Iraqi officials, the Baghdad operations command was called in the early morning hours and told of three potential car bomb attacks, including one near the Green Zone. But there wasn't enough time to act on the tip, the security chiefs told lawmakers.

The U.S. military routinely shares intelligence with Iraq's security commanders, Ballesteros said, adding that "information was shared on the morning of December 8th" in the same manner. He did not provide details.

Security recommendations
The lawmakers, meanwhile, ended four days of hearings Monday with government officials over security breaches that allowed for the attacks to happen.

The last session was held behind closed doors, and the lawmakers were expected to make recommendations about security improvements and possibly increase funding for security, according to a statement on the parliament Web site.

Parliament did not release any details about what, if any, decisions were made during the closed meeting.

During three previous days of hearings in parliament, Iraq's ministers of interior, defense and national security were grilled by angry lawmakers demanding answers as to how bombers eluded security in heavily protected downtown Baghdad.

Bombers used similar tactics in attacks against government sites in Baghdad on Aug. 19 and Oct. 25. More than 250 people were killed in those attacks.

The attacks have put pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been campaigning for re-election on a platform of security and stability, to take steps to shore up security.

Following the attacks, al-Maliki replaced Baghdad's military commander and several street level army and police commanders have been detained for questioning over alleged negligence that allowed insurgents to slip through security.

Violence has dropped off dramatically in Iraq since 2007, though insurgents remain capable of pulling off large-scale attacks that routinely target security forces and civilians.

The American military, though, has warned of a possible rise in violence ahead of the March 7 parliamentary elections. The U.S. has pinned the pace of the withdrawal of its combat troops to the Iraqi elections, with the top American military commander in Iraq ordering the bulk of U.S. forces to remain in place until after the elections.

All but 50,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, under a plan announced by President Barack Obama. Under an Iraqi-U.S. security pact, the remainder of those troops will leave by the end of 2011.

Bank robbery
Also Monday, gunmen robbed the Rasheed Bank in southern Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir, a police spokesman. The robbers made off with millions of dollars worth of Iraqi Dinars, he added.

"The gunmen told the guards they had a suicide bomber with them. As a result, the guards fled the bank," Qadir said.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol in Mandali, on the Iranian border east of Baghdad, killed one policeman and wounded five others, said a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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