In Iraq, It's Like the 'Surge' Never Happened Al-Qaeda has killed thousands this year By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Oct 28, 2013 10:38 AM CDT 91 comments Comments A crane lifts a burned car while citizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Sha'ab neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) (Newser) – Nine car bombs exploded in Baghdad yesterday, which, along with a suicide attack and other incidents killed at least 66 people, the AP reports—and, unfortunately, that didn't make it a particularly unusual day. The al-Qaeda affiliate group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been pummeling the country with terrorist attacks that have in the Washington Post's words, "virtually erased the security gains made in the past five years." At least 5,300 Iraqis have died this year, including more than 600 this month, and 880 in September. It was a little more than five years ago that the US "surge" calmed Iraq by uniting moderate Sunnis against al-Qaeda. But after the US left, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began marginalizing Sunni leaders, fanning sectarian tensions. Syria, meanwhile, has provided a perfect base for ISIS fighters; Anbar province, which borders Syria, has suffered seven major attacks in the past week alone, as fighters pass freely across the border. Maliki will ask for US help in the fight when he visits Washington in three days.