ISIS threat looms over Baghdad

Vehicles drive on a street in Baghdad. (File photo: Reuters)

As violence continues to surge throughout Iraq, stirred up by jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), residents of the capital Baghdad await with dread a possible onslaught on Iraq’s capital, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

“We’re used to bombings. We’re used to assassinations. We know when there is danger coming our way,” said Kadir al-Sahdi, a fruit juice vendor in an affluent Baghdad district. “But this is the first time we’ve been seeing it advertised ahead of time.”

Sahdi was likely referring to slick online campaigns from ISIS, which has been waging war both on the ground in Iraq and Syria and on the internet.

Footage posted by the media-savvy jihadist group frequently focus on mass executions, bomb attacks and recruitment.

Many residents have already fled the city, and most who stay avoid anywhere where large gatherings take place – leaving cafes, markets and shops barren of trade, the newspaper reported.

The tensions are further increased by ongoing sectarian strife – Baghdad’s Shiites and Sunnis have increasingly began to flock to their own areas.

“There are only six or seven families left on my street now,” one local told the newspaper.

Current infiltration

One Iraqi intelligence source told the Sunday Times that “dozens” suicide bombers had already infiltrated Baghdad and were merely waiting for a time to strike.

“ISIS has been infiltrating the city for months — even longer. They are just waiting for the right time to launch a spectacular attack that will rattle the central government,” the source said.

On Sunday, Insurgents brought down an army helicopter over the northern city of Tikrit on Sunday as the military sent in tanks to try to dislodge them on second day of a major pushback against ISIS, Reuters reported.

And in Baghdad, threatened by the rebel advance, top Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers scrambled to agree cabinet nominations before parliament meets on Tuesday to try to prevent the rebel advance threatening Iraq's future as a unitary state – in a race against time as ISIS and local militias consolidate their grip on the north and west.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:53 - GMT 10:53
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