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Iraq Transition

Parliament speaker: Iraq has months to avert collapse

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- On a day when bombs claimed at least 14 lives in Iraq and dozens more bodies were found in Baghdad, a top politician warned Wednesday that the country will collapse by year's end if warring groups fail to reconcile.

Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, urged his colleagues to support national reconciliation, the prime goal of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

"We have three to four months, and if the country does not survive this, the boat will sink," al-Mashhadani said during a parliament session after some lawmakers criticized parliamentary procedures.

Al-Mashhadani's remarks resonated as sectarian strife has escalated between Sunnis and Shiites since the February bombing of Al-Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra. (Watch as a new interior minister tries to crack down on security problems -- 2:42)

On Wednesday, 34 bodies were found dumped in Baghdad, all showing signs of torture, a mode of killing that authorities believe is sectarian-related.

The discovery came a day after seven bullet-riddled bodies were found in Baghdad and two days after 40 bodies turned up in the same condition, a police official said.

A Pentagon report issued Friday found that more than 1,600 people were killed in cold-blooded "execution-style" slayings in July alone, a new high. (Full story)

Also in the capital, at least six civilians were killed and 46 wounded Wednesday when a car bomb exploded, followed shortly by a roadside blast in the northern Qahira neighborhood.

In another attack Wednesday evening in Baghdad, two people were killed when a bomb went off near a funeral tent for a slain leader of the Mehdi Army, the militia affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a police official said.

Eight others were wounded in the attack, which prompted clashes between Mehdi fighters and gunmen.

People had gathered in the southwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Amil to mourn Mehdi leader Zain al-Abdeen, also known as Abu Muqtada, whom gunmen killed while he was driving Saturday.

In northwestern Iraq, a suicide car bombing killed six border police officers and wounded six others Wednesday, Mosul police said. The attack occurred in Sinjar, west of Mosul in Nineveh province near Syria. (Watch how many Americans believe the Iraq war is one the U.S. can't win -- 1:59)

The Iraqi government executed 27 "terrorists" Wednesday for high crimes against civilians, an official told CNN. A woman was among those hanged in a Baghdad prison.

The executions took place during a 10-hour period. No further details were released.

Iraq to begin operational control of military

The Iraqi government on Thursday is expected to begin assuming direct operational control of its military forces from the U.S.-led coalition.

A ceremony had been scheduled for last Saturday but was delayed because of technical concerns and Iraqi questions. A U.S. military spokesman downplayed the delay.

The Iraqi government immediately will assume control of the air and naval forces as well as an Iraqi army division, said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. More divisions will fall under Iraqi government control in the coming months, Caldwell added.

Al Qaeda in Iraq's No. 2 detained earlier than reported

Caldwell also disclosed that the arrest of al Qaeda in Iraq's No. 2 operative, Hamed Jumaa Al Saeedi, occurred nearly three months ago and not a few days ago as reported by the Iraqi government. (Full story)

The government should have said the arrest had been cleared to be announced a few days ago, Caldwell said.

Al Saeedi was detained on June 19, and his arrest was not announced while he was interrogated, Caldwell said.

Al Saeedi provided a great deal of intelligence, he said, with 11 midlevel insurgency leaders killed or captured directly as a result of what he said over a two-month period.

Other suspects also have been detained, but their names have not been disclosed for similar intelligence reasons.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report

Iraqis gather around the remains of a vehicle used as a bomb Wednesday in Baghdad.



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