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ISIS declares war on Iraq's general elections

ISIS declares war on Iraq's general elections
ISIS declares war on Iraq's general elections
As Iraq approaches an important election to choose a new parliament and government, ISIS has vowed to carry out attacks against candidates running for office, according to Voice of America.

Referencing the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's 2005 call for a "bitter war" on Iraq's parliamentary elections at the time, the group said Friday that candidates and voters who participated in the elections would be considered infidels and outside Islam.

"Candidates in elections are claiming divinity and seeking to become demigods, while those who vote for them have taken them as divine and partners to God," the ISIS report said, quoting al-Zarqawi.

Al-Zarqawi is known as the ISIS godfather who led an offshoot of al-Qaeda in 2004. He was killed in a 2006 US airstrike in Baqubah, north of Baghdad.

Claims in three attacks

An infographic that appeared on pro-ISIS social media accounts Friday claimed the group was behind three separate attacks in Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala governorates in the last 10 days. It said the terrorists had targeted "polytheistic democracy," referring to Iraqi political candidates for the elections scheduled for May 12.

ISIS claimed the attacks this month targeted a headquarters of al-Hal party in Anbar's Hit city, a leader of the Turkmen Nationalist Movement in Kirkuk and a leader of the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk.

It said 25 candidates, party members and their guards had died in the attacks.

Iraqi officials were not immediately available to comment.

7,000 candidates

Iraqi political parties on Sunday started campaigning for parliamentary elections, in which nearly 7,000 candidates are competing for 329 seats.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has promised successful elections despite the challenges of stabilizing areas retaken from ISIS and returning millions of Sunni residents displaced by war to their homes.

In a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump earlier this month, al-Abadi discussed accelerating a US-led campaign to defeat ISIS remnants in the country and the prospects of reconstructing the war-torn areas in Iraq.

"The two also emphasized the importance of the success of the upcoming elections to complete the building and construction phase," a White House statement on the phone call said.

Remnants of ISIS

The elections next month will mark Iraqis' first trip to the ballot box since the rise of ISIS in 2014. The group gradually took control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, establishing a so-called caliphate.

The Iraqi government declared victory against ISIS last December. But ISIS remnants have taken advantage of territorial disputes between the central government and the Kurdistan region in Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahuddin and Nineveh, and the vast desert terrain of Anbar, to regroup and carry out terror attacks.