Iraq government forms committee to investigate 'national violations'

The committee is composed of security personnel and the parliamentary security and defence committee

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate violations of “national security” following a series of rocket attacks on the capital.

American diplomats and troops across Iraq have been targeted in dozens of missile attacks blamed by Washington on pro-Iranian armed factions in recent months.

“The prime minister chaired the first meeting of a committee to investigate violations that targeted the security and prestige of Iraq,” said a statement by his office.

Several rockets landed in a residential area near Baghdad's Green Zone overnight but did not explode early Monday raising concerns about the safety of Iraqi civilians.

A Katyusha rocket attack struck a residential home killing six people – all of them women and children – last Monday.

Security officials believe the attack was intended to target the airport nearby, where US troops are based.

Mr Al Kadhimi said “those that have killed and wounded innocent Iraqis, no matter the justifications for these attacks, harms the future of Iraq and its relations.”

The committee is composed of security personnel and the parliamentary security and defence committee.

“These actions have exceeded their limit in light of complex crises that the country is experiencing,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

“Today, Iraq faces a historical responsibility, as the state is undergoing a real test,” he said.

The development comes as thousands of Shiite worshippers visited Iraq’s holy city of Karbala this week for the religious pilgrimage of Arbaeen, amid an increase in cases of the coronavirus pandemic.

Arbaeen, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings, it marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, Imam Hussein, who was killed in battle in 680.

The government decided to limit the number of foreign pilgrims to 1,500 per country of origin as new cases have averaged between 3000-5000 per day.

Last year alone around 2 million Iranians visited the country for the religious ritual. But Tehran has banned flights to Iraq and closed its land borders.

A number of security units have been deployed  to raise awareness among pilgrims about the dangers of the pandemic, Reuters said.

The country’s fragile health sector is deteriorating as the virus spreads rapidly across the country, hospitals have been overwhelmed by the jump in cases after months of a relatively slow spread.