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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 January 2021

Iraqi defence minister warns of civil war if attacks on Green Zone don't stop

Military parade held in Baghdad to mark centenary of the Iraqi army

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi gesturing in greeting during a ceremony to mark the 100th Army Day celebration in the capital Baghdad. AFP
Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi gesturing in greeting during a ceremony to mark the 100th Army Day celebration in the capital Baghdad. AFP

Iraqi Defence Minister Juma Anad said the country was at risk of civil war.

He said repeated attacks on the Green Zone and diplomatic missions in Baghdad could spark a conflict and called on political leaders to put the interests of the country first.

“If this happens, Iraqi citizens would be the victims,” Mr Anad told Al Arabiya TV on Wednesday.

The embassies of several western countries, including the US, are in the Green Zone.

It is relatively well-known as a safe area in Baghdad, but it was the target of several rocket attacks in the past year.

Those responsible for the attacks “want to drag us into an armed confrontation but we will not allow that”, Mr Anad said.

Baghdad accuses “outlaw groups” of launching the attacks but Washington blames Iranian-backed militias.

“Iraq needs the support of the international coalition to assist its military in combating terrorism,” Mr Anad said.

The minister said his government was “working to protect diplomatic representatives and arrest those launching rockets”.

Mr Anad’s remarks came as Iraq celebrated the 100th anniversary of the army with a military parade inside the Green Zone.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi and other ministers, military commanders, and representatives of diplomatic missions in Iraq witnessed the celebrations.

“On the centenary of the founding of the Iraqi Army, we bow before the sacrifices of our brave heroes, renew our pride in our military institutions, and our determination to continue supporting our armed forces in protecting the homeland, citizens, sovereignty and national unity,” Mr Al Kadhimi said on Twitter.

Iraqi President Barham Salih congratulated the army and said victory over terrorism and upholding sovereignty would not be fully achieved until all weapons came under state control.

“The strength and prestige of the army represents the state and its people, and efforts must be continued to build a national army that believes in its military, with a mission in defending the homeland and preserving sovereignty,” Mr Salih said.

Updated: January 6, 2021 08:00 PM

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