Iraqi officials unable to quell the threat of IS
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi has dismissed three officials in charge of security after last weekend’s bombing that killed nearly 300 people and caused outrage at the inadequacy of emergency services and the security apparatus.
A statement posted on his Facebook page yesterday said he had fired the commander of military operations, security services and intelligence in the capital.
The bombing, claimed by the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group Islamic State, was the bloodiest in Iraq since US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein 13 years ago.
Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani criticised the government’s failure to deal effectively with the IS threat.
“Complacency among corrupt and failed (officials) at the expense of the blood and souls of innocents civilians is unbearable and needs to be stopped,” he said in his weekly sermon, read on his behalf.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban resigned on Tuesday, blaming the attack on a lack of communication between different forces in charge of the capital’s security.
The self-proclaimed IS has lost ground since last year to US-backed government forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias in the territory they control in northern and western Iraq but still have the ability to strike the heart of the capital. IS claimed a triple suicide attack late on Thursday near a Shia mausoleum north of Baghdad, which killed at least 50 people, according to sources.
Baghdad- based security analyst, Hisham al-Hashimi, said the attack made an escalation of sectarian strife highly likely. Shias form a majority in Iraq but northern and western provinces are mostly Sunni, including Salahuddin where the attack on the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi is located.
Prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia, the Peace Brigade, to deploy around the mausoleum, near Balad, about 93km north of Baghdad.
Sadr’s militia is also deployed in Samarra, a nearby city that houses the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi, the father of Sayid Mohammed whose mausoleum was attacked on Thursday.
Air strikes killed 23 people at a holiday spot in north-western Syria yesterday, the last day of a 72- hour ceasefire announced by the Syrian army.
A riverside area in the town of Darkush, near the Turkish border, in western Idlib province was targeted in the strikes.
The dead and injured had come from towns around the province to enjoy the Muslim Eid holiday weekend, accord- ing to witnesses and the Syrian Observatory.
The death toll, which included 10 women and two children, is likely to rise due to the number of severely injured people, according to the Observatory.
“It was a terrifying sight because most of the people had fallen into the river next to the spring. There were children, women, men,” Ahmad Yaziji, a civil defence chief in the nearby town of Jisr al-Shughour, said.
“The area which was targeted had no military positions in it at all and never had one,” Yaziji said.
Syrian and Russian jets carry out air strikes across Syria but it was not known who carried out the attack in Idlib, which is under the control of rebel groups including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. – Reuters
Syrian children ride a carousel as they celebrate on the second day of Eid-ul-Fitr, after the end of the month of Ramadaan, in Damascus, Syria.