Two car bombs exploded in Baghdad this weekend. The first in a busy shopping district in the neighborhood of Karrada. There have been 125 confirmed casualties, including at least 25 children and 147 wounded.
The second explosion occurred shortly after the first, in an outdoor market in the neighborhood of Shaab, in the southeastern section of the Iraqi capital. There were five dead and 16 injured.
Another in the ongoing series of bombings
According to The Associated Press, the Islamic State have attributed themselves to the explosion in Karrada, claiming that they were targeting Shiite Muslims. It appears that ISIS has resorted once more to terrorist attacks to cope with battlefield losses, where Fallujah, one of the most significant settlements in the ongoing war was freed from ISIS’ grasp several weeks ago.
The bombing in Karrada occurred minutes after midnight, just as the nearby Muslim community was breaking their fast for Ramadan. The shopping mall was destroyed and engulfed in flames, causing the deaths of dozens of innocent Baghdadi citizens.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and several government officials visited the site of the attack, but they received a rough welcome as their truck convoy was pelted with rocks and debris.
The al-Abadi administration has had to cope with violent protests while it took action to liberate the city of Fallujah. The homes of diplomats and even government buildings have been stormed by protesters on several occasions, reportedly because the government has “failed” to provide safety for the Iraqi capital. Street vendor Sami stated to AP: “We are in a state of war, and these places are targeted. The security can’t focus on the war (against IS) and forget Baghdad.”
The current state of the war
— Times of India (@timesofindia) July 3, 2016
The Islamic State still has control over Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities. Northern Iraq has a massive presence of ISIS, which has to be tackled with joint operations along allied armed forces of the region, but the belligerence of each army is determined by the allegiance and interests of a particular country or belief, which poses as an inherent obstacle to the development of military operations.
On 2014, the Islamic State managed to seize a third of Iraq’s territory, while now they only possess less than a quarter. As ISIS forces become restrained and secluded on contested territory, there may be an increased expectancy of terrorist attacks since the Islamic State (and other Islamic extremist organizations such as Boko Haram) tend to resort to suicide bombings as a statement of their ability to cause devastating and unavoidable consequences for their enemies.
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Ján Kubiš stated: “This is a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions, to target peaceful civilians in the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan including shoppers preparing for the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday.”
Iraq has been besieged by a complex civil war since 2014. The primary losses that Iraq suffered that served as critical factors for the development of the war were the ISIS-led conquest of Fallujah, Mosul, and most of the northern region of the country. Since Iraqi forces managed to retake Fallujah, ISIS has launched waves of terrorist attacks, such as the one that occurred on Saturday night. Iraq has also seen airstrikes from Iran, Syria, the U.S. and even the intervention of the Iranian and Russian military.
ISIS will keep resorting to terrorist attacks
— Mustafa al-Najafi (@MustafaNajafi) July 3, 2016
Baghdad has been besieged with ISIS-led bombings in the past few months. On May 1, a Shiite community in the city of Samawah was attacked by twin suicide bombers, killing at least 33 people. On May 13, three gunmen carrying AK-47’s attacked the Real Madrid Fan Club of Baghdad and resulted in the death of 16 football aficionados.
A car bombing occurred in Sadr City on May 17, ending the lives of at least 24 victims. Shortly after, a second attack carried out by a female took place in a neighborhood in north Baghdad known as al-Shaab, leaving 19 dead.
The U.S. has led a coalition of military intervention against the Islamic State. In 2014, there was a total of 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel, but now there are at least 4,000 American troops deployed in Iraq. That amount seems eager to increase as both Baghdad and Washington have been drafting plans to retake the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Although most of U.S. military personnel is there to train Iraqi forces, gunship helicopters and rockets have been provided to the Iraqi military to prepare for the assault on Mosul as it was stated by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who also recently lifted the ban on transgender people being able to serve in the U.S. military. On the other hand, President Obama stated back in April: “My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall.”