BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A rash of killings of U.S.-allied Sunni militiamen is pointing to signs of weakness for the "Sons of Iraq," military experts say.
The militias, which are credited with helping turn the tide in favor of the United States in its struggle to defeat insurgents, have seen about dozen of their members killed in rural areas south of Baghdad in recent weeks, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Sunday.
Experts told the newspaper the killings indicate the Sons of Iraq are weakening as a force as the Shiite-led government offers them little support and al-Qaida adversaries look to settle scores left over from the U.S. troop surge of 2007.
"We're seeing the combination of us thinning out, the government of Iraq offering them no jobs or bad jobs, and the release of some former (al-Qaida) elements from detention," an unnamed U.S. staff officer told Stars and Stripes. "It's leading to a perception that the SOI are increasingly vulnerable and lack support, and that's leading to a lot of retribution."
Other military experts said the killings also reflect an effort by Sunni insurgents to reassert themselves ahead of elections planned for March.