Islamic state claims Baghdad bombs; parliament to meet on Sunday

BAGHDAD Tue Jul 8, 2014 10:52am EDT

A military vehicle transports the coffin of Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's sixth division, during a funeral ceremony at the defence ministry in Baghdad July 7, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

A military vehicle transports the coffin of Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's sixth division, during a funeral ceremony at the defence ministry in Baghdad July 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamist militants claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad, and there were signs the deadlock paralysing Iraq's parliament might finally be loosening in the face of the threat from the "Islamic State" that has seized much of the country.

The Sunni Muslim group, which has taken over large areas of Syria and Iraq, posted web photos of two men with scarves covering their faces, posing in front of its black and white flag and machineguns. It identified them as the Baghdad bombers and said they were Lebanese and Libyan.

Five people were killed in the first blast at a cafe in the Washash district on Sunday night. Four police and three civilians were killed the next day at a checkpoint in Kadhimiya, a northern neighbourhood.

Both districts are predominately Shi'ite Muslim, raising fears the capital could return to the days of sectarian bloodletting from 2006-2007.

Baghdad had seen few attacks compared to the violence in other areas hit by the Islamic State's lightning offensive last month.

Hopes that political paralysis in Baghdad may be broken with the formation of a new government to confront the insurgency were dashed on Monday when parliament delayed its next meeting for five weeks - only to reverse its decision 24 hours later.

On Tuesday the acting speaker of the new parliament Mehdi al-Hafidh said parliament would bring forward the session to Sunday, instead of August 12.

"Any delay in this could jeopardize the security of Iraq and its democratic course and increase the suffering of the Iraqi people," the speaker said.

"DIRE SITUATION"

The postponement had been criticised by the lawmakers themselves, who also blamed each other, and by Washington. The U.S. State Department said the "dire situation on the ground" made progress to resolve the impasse all the more urgent.

With no sign that Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will abandon his bid for a third term, his Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish opponents warn there is a risk that Iraq will fragment along ethnic and sectarian lines.

The reasons for the deadlock over the nomination of the top three posts in government - prime minister, president, and speaker - mirror the broader divisions in the country.

The Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, until recently called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It is spearheading a patchwork of insurgents who hold territory grabbed in a blitzkrieg across the north and west of Iraq and have threatened to move on Baghdad.

The city of 7 million faces threats from militants on three sides.

Islamic State and other Sunni insurgents - ranging from tribal fighters, more moderate Islamists, ex-military officers and members of the banned Baath party - are in the western Baghdad suburbs and cities to the north. Clashes have also erupted to the south.

The Iraqi military, backed by Shi'ite militias and volunteers, has yet to take back any major city but is trying to advance on Tikrit, the late dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown in Salahuddin province.

The army said on Tuesday it had "cleansed" the road from Baghdad to Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) to the north, but attacks are still being launched on security forces on the road.

On Tuesday a suicide bomber killed three policemen and two civilians 15 km south of Samarra, a local security source and a medic said.

The United Nations said last week more than 2,400 Iraqis had been killed in June alone. (Full Story)

Backed by Shi'ite militias and volunteers, the military has been trying since June 28 to advance into Tikrit and defeat opponents including the Naqshbandi Army, a group led by former army officers and Baathists like Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's feared deputy and lifelong confidante.

"POPULAR UPRISING"

Douri is also from the Tikrit area, and is the most senior of Saddam's aides still at large.

Staunchly opposed to what they see as an exclusionary Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad, veterans of the Baath party that ruled Iraq before 2003 found common cause with Islamic State militants when they overran Tikrit and Mosul, the north's largest city.

The prime minister's military spokesman said however on Tuesday "ex-army officers and tribesmen" in Sunni majority areas like Mosul and Tikrit were rallying against the Islamic State.

"(They) are getting ready for a popular uprising against the Islamic state," Lieutenant General Qassim Atta told reporters. "Our security forces are ready to provide tribesmen with the help they need," he said.

The army has intensified its air raids on militant-held positions in northern provinces including Salahuddin and Nineveh, where Mosul is located, in an effort to drive out the insurgents.

The Islamic State posted photos and a statement on social media late on Monday showing the bloodied corpse of an army officer the group identified as Brigadier General Ibrahim Abdullah Hussein, saying it had executed him.

Hussein was one of the officers the government said had fled Tikrit at the beginning of last month's offensive, which saw army and police flee in the wake of the onslaught. There was no way to independently confirm the claim.

Residents of the city say the militants are holding prisoners at Saddam's former palace there.

Thirty "terrorists" were killed in a government air strike on the town of Sharqat north of Tikrit on Tuesday, Atta said.

A doctor at the local hospital told Reuters five civilians were wounded when a helicopter gunship fired on the hospital, where the doctor said some wounded Islamic State fighters were being treated.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Dominic Evans and Andrew Roche)

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Comments (6)
unionwv wrote:
The European powers of post WWI got their border impositions wrong in the Middle East and they and the U.S. are now attempting to preserve them.

But the peoples who live on the ground will out – foreign governments, starting with France at Dien Bien Fu, haven’t been able to overcome their hubris and continue to attempt impose their polity on their erstwhile clients.

Jul 07, 2014 9:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kurdstaat wrote:
Iraq, Syria, and Turkey are going to disintegrated and fall apart. Any moron who goes against this tide is going against nature.

All you Americans and Europeans must recognize that your degenerate ancestors drew all the borders wrong in the first place in order to eradicate the Kurdish nation. You backstabbing terrorist Americans and Europeans must recognize that the only way for peaceful resolution to this international conflict is to recognize the Greater Kurd State and redraw all the borders. Otherwise, you and everyone else is going to pay for the mess your greed and terror has created.

The degenerate French and British who made Turkey, Iraq and Syria are dead but their mistake has created suffering, terror and genocide for multiple generations of Kurds. Instead you backstabbers have replaced the Kurds with terrorist Al-Qaaeda and the likes of Saddam Hussain and Chemical Ali. You children of degenerate Supreme War Council will have to pay the price of your ancestors crimes.

Recognize the mistakes of your degenerate ancestors and stop hellucinating about keeping Iraq, Syria and Turkey as States. These degenerate States have expired and must fall apart. The Islamic terrorist fundamentalist regime of Iran must also be eradicated as French created them to contain the USSR. Now that USSR is gone Islamic fundamentalist of Iran must also go.
Wake up and kick this stupid lackey degenerate president of yours, Obama, out. pick someone who is educated and pro Kurd. As long as you continue on the path of the degenerate supreme war council you are going to pay a heavy price.

Recognize Kurd State.
Recognize that you have committed numerous acts of genocide and terrorism against the Kurds just by not recognizing Kurd State.
Recognize that as long as Kurd State is not created the plague of Islamic fundamentalism will grow until it bites you all in the arse.

Jul 07, 2014 12:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kurdstaat wrote:
Iraq, Syria, and Turkey are going to disintegrated and fall apart. Any moron who goes against this tide is going against nature.

All you Americans and Europeans must recognize that your degenerate ancestors drew all the borders wrong in the first place in order to eradicate the Kurdish nation. You backstabbing terrorist Americans and Europeans must recognize that the only way for peaceful resolution to this international conflict is to recognize the Greater Kurd State and redraw all the borders. Otherwise, you and everyone else is going to pay for the mess your greed and terror has created.

The degenerate French and British who made Turkey, Iraq and Syria are dead but their mistake has created suffering, terror and genocide for multiple generations of Kurds. Instead you backstabbers have replaced the Kurds with terrorist Al-Qaaeda and the likes of Saddam Hussain and Chemical Ali. You children of degenerate Supreme War Council will have to pay the price of your ancestors crimes.

Recognize the mistakes of your degenerate ancestors and stop hellucinating about keeping Iraq, Syria and Turkey as States. These degenerate States have expired and must fall apart. The Islamic terrorist fundamentalist regime of Iran must also be eradicated as French created them to contain the USSR. Now that USSR is gone Islamic fundamentalist of Iran must also go.
Wake up and kick this stupid lackey degenerate president of yours, Obama, out. pick someone who is educated and pro Kurd. As long as you continue on the path of the degenerate supreme war council you are going to pay a heavy price.

Recognize Kurd State.
Recognize that you have committed numerous acts of genocide and terrorism against the Kurds just by not recognizing Kurd State.
Recognize that as long as Kurd State is not created the plague of Islamic fundamentalism will grow until it bites you all in the arse.

Jul 07, 2014 12:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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