Deadly Daesh attack hit southern Iraq, kills more than 80
THE DEATH toll in Thursday's twin terror attacks targeting Iraq's southern province of Thi Qar has risen to 84, a military official said Friday.
The Health Department had initially put the death toll as 50 after Daesh terrorists fired randomly at a restaurant located next to the international highway in Thi Qar before detonating a bomb-laden vehicle near a checkpoint.
"The death toll rose to 84 after a number of the injured succumbed to their wounds at hospitals across the province," Capt. Mohammed Nayef told Anadolu Agency.
Most of the casualties are Iranians, Nayef said, adding the army and police had launched an extensive investigation into the attack.
Nayef went on to say that "initial findings suggest that the Daesh elements managed to reach there [the site of attack] via desert roads free of presence of the security forces".
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement Thursday condemning the attacks. "We also express our condolences to the fellow peoples of Iraq and Iran," said the statement.
The attack began as a shooting at a checkpoint and restaurant along the main road that connects the province to Baghdad, followed by two suicide bombers, one driving an explosives-laden car.
The spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite majority condemned the attack Friday calling on Iraq's central government and local leaders "to undertake responsibly and professionally the protection of citizens from terrorists." Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's message was delivered by his representative Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai from the holy city of Karbala during Friday prayers.
Daesh fighters have repeatedly turned to large-scale insurgent attacks following territorial losses. In July Iraqi forces declared victory against Daesh in Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, a military win that effectively broke the back of the militants' self-proclaimed caliphate. In August, Iraq declared that its forces retook the northern city of Tal Afar and the surrounding region in another major victory over the Daesh terrorist group. Tal Afar and the surrounding area was one of the last pockets of Daesh-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July in Mosul. The town, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, sits along a major road that was once a key Daesh supply route.