Iraqi of­fi­cials un­able to quell the threat of IS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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

PIC­TURE: EPA

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.

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