Iraq timeline: a week of escalating violence

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has survived an assassination attempt amid a week of unrest

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Iraq has been rocked by several high-profile attacks and deadly clashes over the past seven days, including an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi on Sunday.

A period marked by violence began on October 30, when rockets were fired into a residential area of the capital Baghdad near the Green Zone, which houses diplomatic missions and Iraqi government buildings.

No casualties were reported, but the violence that has followed is especially worrying as the country struggles with protests, a rejection of results in legislative elections and an ISIS resurgence.

Here’s a look at a week of escalating attacks in Iraq:

Saturday, October 30

Three rockets landed in Mansour, a residential district in Baghdad near the Green Zone, the high-security area that houses the US embassy and other diplomatic missions.

No group has yet claimed the attack, but the Iran-backed Shiite news channel Sabreen was the first to report on it.

The Green Zone has been the target of several strikes, but this was the first attack on the area since two rockets were fired at it on July 29.

The timing matters because election results showed the Fatah Alliance, a pro-Iran political group, had lost traction, prompting its armed umbrella group, Hashed Al Shaabi, to contest the outcome. Its supporters staged a sit-in near the Green Zone.

Monday, November 1

Iraqi special forces units on Monday said they had arrested several ISIS members in connection with an attack that killed 11 people in Al Hawashah, a village in the eastern Diyala province.

“A cell belonging to the ISIS terror group (Daesh) made up of six people was dismantled in Al Fallujah and Al Ramadi,” Ministry of Defence spokesman Yehia Rasool said on Twitter.

Another ISIS member was captured in Baghdad, he said.

ISIS was defeated in Iraq in 2017, but the group has made a comeback.

Mr Al Kadhimi sent National Security Adviser Qasim Al Araji and a delegation of officials to the site of the attack in Diyala and vowed to “chase the terrorists out of Iraq”.

The Soufan Centre, a US think tank, said ISIS claimed around 90 attacks every month in Iraq between January 2020 and September 2021. The group focused on Saladin, Kirkuk and Diyala provinces.

“If the United States withdraws its remaining troops ... there is a major risk that ISIS will take advantage and seek to go on the offensive,” the centre said.

Friday, November 5

Month-long protests by Hashed Al Shaabi supporters turned deadly and at least one civilian was killed and dozens injured in clashes between protesters and security forces, Iraq’s state news agency said on Saturday.

Hashed forces say two protesters were killed in the clashes.

Police fired tear gas and live ammunition into the air as dozens of demonstrators chanting “No to America” and “No to fraud” threw stones and tried to advance towards the Green Zone.

“The negligent will be brought to legal accountability for their negligence and violation of the explicit orders of the commander in chief, which stressed that live bullets should not be fired under any circumstances,” the Joint Operations Command in Iraq said.

Saturday, November 6

Hundreds of supporters of pro-Iranian factions staged another demonstration Saturday in the Iraqi capital over last month’s election results, a day after at least one protester was killed in a clash with police.

Hashed supporters chanted “No to America!” and “No to Fraud!” outside the high-security Green Zone, which contains government buildings and the US embassy.

Security forces close the heavily fortified Green Zone during a protest outside in Baghdad on Saturday. AP

Symbolic funeral processions for Hashed Al Shaabi supporters killed in protests on Friday also took place in the capital on Saturday.

In Najaf, mourners prayed over the coffins of those they said were killed in Baghdad.

Sunday, November 7

Early on Sunday, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s home was struck by explosive-laden drones in an apparent assassination attempt. Photos released by his office showed destruction to his residence, which is inside the Green Zone. No group has claimed the attack.

International condemnation of the attack poured in from regional and international allies including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, as well as the UN mission in Iraq.

Many expressed relief that the Prime Minister was unhurt but restated their support of Iraq.

Updated: November 07, 2021, 4:09 PM