Iraq suicide bombers kill 11 fighters loyalto cleric Sadr

AFP
December 14, 2019

SAMARRA, Iraq: Two suicide bombers targeted a base of an Iraqi armed group led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, killing 11 fighters, the army said Thursday. The first attack took place late in the day...

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SAMARRA, Iraq: Two suicide bombers targeted a base of an Iraqi armed group led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, killing 11 fighters, the army said Thursday. The first attack took place late in the day near Tharthar Lake southwest of Samarra, a longtime stronghold of Sunni jihadist groups some 100 kilometres (65 miles) north of Baghdad. The blast killed seven fighters and wounded three, the army said, adding it was carried out by “a suicide terrorist” — its standard term for Islamic State group jihadists. Later, a second attacker blew up a car packed with explosives at the same site, killing another four fighters, the army said. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Sadr´s Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades) force took part in the gruelling Iraqi operation against IS after the jihadists seized a third of Iraq and swathes of neighbouring Syria in 2014. In late 2017, Iraq declared victory over the jihadist group, but its sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks across the country.

Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday denounced the murder and abduction of anti-government protesters, calling for weapons to be placed under the control of the state. Around 460 people have been killed and 25,000 have been wounded — most of them protesters — since anti-government rallies erupted on October 1 in Baghdad and the Shiite-majority south.

And since then demonstrators in the capital and southern cities have disappeared almost daily, in most cases taken from near their homes as they return from protests. “We strongly denounce the killings, abductions and attacks of all kinds that have been taking place,” Sistani said in a sermon delivered by his representative in the shrine city of Kerbala during the weekly Friday prayer. Protesters accuse pro-Iran armed factions of playing a role in the killing and abduction of protesters. Sistani mentioned specifically an attack late last Friday when unidentified gunmen stormed and torched a multi-storey building known as Al-Sinek Garage in Baghdad where protesters had camped out for weeks.

With border guards, clean-up crews and hospitals, Iraqi protesters have created a mini-state in Baghdad´s Tahrir Square, offering the kinds of services they say their government has failed to provide. “We´ve done more in two months than the state has done in 16 years,” said Haydar Chaker, a construction worker from Babylon province, south of the capital. Everyone has their role, from cooking bread to painting murals, with a division of labour and scheduled shifts. Chaker came to Baghdad with his friends after the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage to the Shiite holy city Karbala, his pilgrim´s tent and cooking equipment equally useful at a protest encampment. Installed in the iconic square whose name means “liberation”, he provides three meals a day to hundreds of protesters, cooking with donated foods. In the morning he coordinates with the surrounding tents, dividing sacks of rice, sugar, flour and other ingredients then assigning meals, drinks and sandwiches for volunteers to prepare. The self-reliant encampment is the heart of a protest movement that seeks the radical overhaul of Iraq´s political system, and despite frequent power cuts, it never stops beating.



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