Iraq Market Blast Kills At Least 21, Injures 33


Iraqis inspect the site of the explosion in a popular market in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City, east of Baghdad, on July 19, 2021. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

At least 21 people were killed and 33 wounded Monday in a bomb blast in a busy market in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a medical source told AFP.

The blast in the densely populated majority-Shiite suburb of Sadr City came as shoppers crowded the market buying food ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Video footage shared on social media after the blast showed bloodied victims and people screaming in terror.

An interior ministry source said four women and four children were among those killed.

“A terror attack using a locally-made IED (improvised explosive device) in Woheilat Market in Sadr City, in east Baghdad, left several victims dead and others injured,” Iraq’s interior ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Baghdad Operations Command, a joint military and interior ministry security body, said it had launched an investigation into the blast.

In January, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a rare twin suicide bombing that killed 32 people — also at a crowded market in Baghdad.

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Iraqis inspect the site of the explosion in a popular market in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City, east of Baghdad, on July 19, 2021.  AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

That blast was the city’s deadliest attack in three years.

Such violence was commonplace in Baghdad during the sectarian bloodletting that followed the US-led invasion of 2003, and later on as IS swept across much of Iraq and also targeted the capital.

But after years of deadly violence, militant attacks have become relatively rare in the capital Baghdad.

Iraq declared IS defeated at the end of 2017 after a fierce three-year campaign.

Yet the group’s sleeper cells have continued to operate in desert and mountain areas, typically targeting security forces or state infrastructure with low casualty attacks.

The US-led coalition that had been supporting Iraq’s campaign against IS has significantly drawn down its troop levels over the past year, citing the increased capabilities of Iraqi forces.

The United States, which provides the bulk of the force, has 2,500 troops left in Iraq — down from 5,200 a year ago.

They are mainly in charge of training, providing drone surveillance and carrying out air strikes while Iraqi security forces handle security in urban areas.

Sadr City, where Monday’s bomb blast took place, is named after revered Shiite cleric Mohammed al-Sadr.

His son, Moqtada Sadr — a firebrand cleric with millions of followers and in command of paramilitary groups — is a crucial player in Iraqi politics who has often protested against the influence of both the United States and Iran.

The boycott by Sadr of upcoming elections slated for October is a blow to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who had called the early vote in response to demands by pro-democracy activists.

AFP

One Militant Killed In US Bombing In Iraq – Pentagon

Iraqi Flag

 

The US Defense Department said Monday that one member of a pro-Iran militia was killed and two were injured in last week’s bombing of a border station inside Syria.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby made no mention of possible civilian casualties, but said than nine buildings were destroyed in the pinpoint strike on the outpost near Albu Kamal.

The US military said was used by Iran-supported Iraqi armed groups.

“We believe right now there was likely one militia member killed and two militia members wounded,” Kirby said.

“We’ll continue to assess … and if that changes we will certainly let you know,” he added.

Shortly after the early Friday attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 22 fighters from Iraq’s state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force were killed.

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The strike was in retaliation for three recent missile attacks on installations used by US and coalition forces in Iraq.

Those were believed launched by Iran-backed militias that operate under the umbrella of Hashed al-Shaabi.

It was the first military strike by the administration of Joe Biden in the region and came as Biden seeks to resume negotiations with Tehran over limiting its nuclear program.

Iraqi map.

 

Biden was “sending an unambiguous message that he’s going to act to protect Americans,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said they were confident the target was being used by “the same Shia militia that conducted the strikes” in Iraq against US-used facilities.

The administration has stressed that the action was meant as a warning and to avoid further escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington.

“This was really designed to do two things: to remove that compound from their utilization of it as an entry control point from Syria into Iraq,” Kirby said.

“And, two, to send a very strong signal that we’re not going to tolerate attacks on our people and our Iraqi partners.”

AFP