The United States on Sunday denounced an Al Qaeda splinter group's claim that it had killed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, a claim buttressed by chilling photos of the purported executions posted to social media.
The statement by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki came just a short time after she announced that the U.S. had moved to boost security at its embassy in Baghdad amid flaring violence in Iraq.
"The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the bloodlust that these terrorists represent. While we cannot confirm these reports, one of the primary goals of ISIL is to set fear into the hearts of all Iraqis and drive sectarian division among its people. We condemn these tactics in the strongest possible terms and stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people against these horrendous and senseless acts of violence. Terrorists who can commit such heinous acts are a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community. This underscores the need for Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum to take steps that will unify the country in the face of this threat. The United States will do its part to help Iraq move beyond this crisis and we urge all Iraqis to unite against this violence and continue to reject the path of hatred that ISIL represents."