BAGHDAD, July 22 (UPI) -- The Iraqi Interior Ministry said it was able to thwart an attack on two prison facilities near Baghdad.
Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Ma'an was quoted Monday by the Voices of Iraq news agency as saying security forces were able to foil attacks against the Taji and Abu Ghraib detention centers near Baghdad.
"The attackers were forced to retreat and the Iraqi forces are still chasing terrorists in the area," he said.
Iraqi security official Hakim al-Zamily told al-Arabiya; however, at least 500 prisoners escaped from Abu Ghraib and most were suspected of fighting in support of al-Qaida. At least 12 people were reported dead from the attacks.
VOI reported the attacks followed a call to arms issued by Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Qaida, a Sunni organization, has expressed its opposition to Shiite political leaders in Iraq.
U.N. special envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler said he was frustrated the last comments from his office before his tenure ends are about ongoing violence in the country.
"I call on all Iraqis not to let violence prevail and to work together toward peace and dialogue, the only sustainable solution," he said in a statement Sunday.
The U.S. State Department last week said it was concerned violence in Iraq may complicate security challenges in a region on edge from Syria's civil war.
Violence in Iraq has increased steadily since U.S. combat forces left the country for good in December 2011.