Report: U.S. foils assassination bids of Iraqi PM

Demonstrators chant pro-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in the poster, during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq. (File photo: AP)

The U.S. embassy has foiled two attempts to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a high-level Iraqi official told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published Tuesday.

The official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the first operation to eliminate Abadi, who took power last September and has been hailed for his sweeping reforms, was in its early stages.

However, the second bid – at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone - to assassinate the premier was “advanced” in reaching its target, and led to the arrests of suspects, who are army officers.

The official said these assassination attempts were due to Abadi’s reforms.

Abadi’s predecessor Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was denounced by critics for estranging Sunnis in the country, leading to the seizure of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul by Islamist militants in June last year.

The report came after Abadi said he expected a coup against him, and this might cost him his life as well.

Last month, Abadi abolished the positions of vice-president and vice-premier. As a result, Maliki, the-then vice president, was the most senior politician to be removed from his post.

According to the official, Abadi recently criticized a government convoy - seen in the southern city of Basra – awaiting Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the powerful Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds unit.

The official said the premier did not know of Soleimani’s visit to Iraq and expressed surprise and concern that the Iranian general’s visit was not official.

Images circulating online showed Soleimani with the mainly Shiite militia volunteer groups of the Population Mobilization units in Iraq fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. ISIS controls much of the country’s Sunni-dominant north and western regions.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45