Security crackdown in Iraq

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi announced the deployment of tens of thousands of security personnel in a lockdown on the capital.

“We’re going to set up a security cordon around Baghdad, and it will be impossible for terrorists to cross,” he said, adding the plan involving around 40,000 soldiers and police and hundreds of checkpoints would come into operation next week.

“The objective is to pass from a defensive position to an offensive one and to put the capacities of defence and interior ministry forces to the best use.”

“The security measures will be applied in Baghdad next week and throughout Iraq in two weeks time,” Mr Dulaimi said at a press conference in Baghdad.

Also at the briefing, Interior Minister Bayan Baqer Solagh commented on reports that al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq had been injured.

“We received information five days ago saying that Zarqawi had been wounded but we don’t know the seriousness of his injuries,” he said.

The comments came amid confusion over who might replace Zarqawi after his group denied it had named a caretaker commander called Abu Hafs al-Qarni.

“We deny the claim about the appointment of one Abu Hafs or anyone else,” said a statement purportedly from Zarqawi’s group.

A statement issued earlier, also purportedly posted by “al-Qaeda Organisation in the Land of Two Rivers”, claimed Abu Hafs al-Qarni had been appointed as deputy chief of the group pending Zarqawi’s recovery.

But across Iraq the insurgency, which has claimed the lives of more than 600 people this month, continued with more car bombings and shootings.

There were also “sketchy” reports of an incident in Baghdad, when according to the Iraqi authorities, US forces shot at a bus.

“American forces opened fire on a minibus in the Dura district, in southern Baghdad, killing three people and wounding four,” a defence ministry official said.

US military spokesman Lieutenant Jamie Davis confirmed an incident had taken place but said “details are sketchy and we don’t know who was involved.”

Bus driver Abbas Abbas said US troops opened fire after he pulled over to get out of their way.

In northern Iraq, around 1,000 US and Iraqi troops continued their operation in the Euphrates Valley town of Haditha in a bid to rout militants believed to have fled an earlier operation near the Syrian border.

And the US military says one of its helicopters crashed after coming under small arms fire while supporting coalition forces near the city of
Baquba, 56 kiloemtres northeast of Baghdad.

The fate or number of crew aboard the helicopter was unknown.

The US Central Command says a second helicopter was also fired at but landed safely at a US military base.

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