The Baghdad Post presents to its readers the latest news updates and breaking news today in Iraq.
Cleric Sadr says stand required to distance Iraq away from US-Iran conflict
Sadrist Movement leader and head of the Sairoon Alliance in Iraq, Muqtada Al-Sadr, affirmed on Monday that he does not support the outbreak of war between Iran and the United States.
The Shiite cleric also voiced rejection towards dragging Iraq into this war and make it a battleground for the Iranian-American conflict.
“We need a serious stand to distance Iraq away from the sparks of such a fierce war, which will ignite into a blaze burning down the country,” Sadr posted on Twitter.
“We need the Iraqi people to raise their voices against this war and dragging Iraq into it, because if Iraq did not stand united, it will be the end of Iraq,” he added.
Sadr further pointed out that neither the U.S. administration, nor Iran, want war, moreover, Iraq and its people cannot endure another war, stressing that Iraq requires peace and reconstruction.
“Whoever drags Iraq into this war or considers it as a battleground will become an enemy to the Iraqi people,” he added.
Al-Sadr is an Iraqi Shiite cleric and politician. He is one
of the most influential religious and leader of the Sadrist movement.
Rocket fired into Green Zone left no casualties: Iraqi Army
The Iraqi military said on Monday the rocket that was fired into Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, on Sunday caused no casualties.
“A Katyusha rocket fell in the middle of the Green Zone
without causing any losses,” the military said in a statement, adding it landed
near the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.
The monument lies in open ground about half a kilometer (a third of a mile) north of the sprawling, riverside U.S. embassy compound. The blast was heard across central Baghdad, according to Reuters witnesses and residents.
A U.S. State Department official confirmed a “low-grade” rocket landed in the Green Zone near the embassy, but said there were no casualties or significant damage.
The embassy in Baghdad and U.S. consulate in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Erbil evacuated non-emergency staff this week, out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iraq’s neighbour, Iran.
The U.S. State Department official noted that there had so far been no claim of responsibility, and that no U.S.-inhabited facility was impacted.
“But, we take this incident very seriously,” the State Department official said. “We will hold Iran responsible if any such attacks are conducted by its proxy militia forces or elements of such forces, and will respond to Iran accordingly.”
One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was considering sending a small number of additional personnel to protect the embassy. The official said talks on this had been going on prior to the rocket incident and stressed that the number of additional personnel would be low.
President Donald Trump’s administration has said it sent additional forces to the region to counter what it called credible threats from Iran against U.S. interests, including from militias it supports in Iraq.
Tehran has described U.S. moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game.”
Both Iran and the United States have said they do not want war.
Hours after the blast in Baghdad, Trump wrote on Twitter: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is an inexpensive type of rocket artillery that can deliver explosives to a target quicker than conventional artillery, but is less accurate.
After the blast, Iraqi police special forces found a rocket launcher in eastern Baghdad’s al-Sina district, about 7 km (4.3 miles) away across the Tigris River from the Green Zone, and sealed off the area, a police source told Reuters.
Officers were searching for suspects and an ordinance disposal team from the Baghdad Operations Command was inspecting the launcher, the source said.
Rockets have occasionally been fired into the Green Zone since then. The latest such incident was in September, when three mortar shells landed inside the Green Zone, causing no casualties.
Security troops arrest ‘female criminal gangs’
Iraqi security forces have managed to arrested at least 80 gangs and criminal networks, most consisting of women, since the beginning of 2019.
In remarks on Saturday, a security source said that the local security forces succeeded to arrest more than 80 criminal gangs, 55 of which encompass women, since the beginning of the year.
Armed robbery and human trafficking were the main violent acts of the female gangs, according to the source.
The gangs that contained women required double police effort to arrest them.
Two terrorists forming sleeper cells arrested in Falluja
The Iraqi Directorate of Military Intelligence announced Monday that forces managed to arrest two terrorists involved in forming sleeper cells in Falluja.
A statement by the directorate said forces managed to arrest the two criminals after thorough investigation and surveillance.
The terrorists were ambushed while being in the neighborhoods of Jbeil, south of Al-Fallujah.
They are currently being interrogated and will be referred to the judiciary for the necessary procedures to take place.
Security reports indicate that ISIS is still a threat against stability in Iraq. The terrorist group still has dormant cells, through which it carries out attacks across Iraq like it used to do before 2014.
Iraqi intelligence seizes ISIS documents during raid in Makhoul
Iraqi military intelligence raided two ISIS hideouts in the Makhoul mountain range on Monday, as forces managed to seize weapons, explosives and “very important documents.”
A statement by the military intelligence directorate said five explosive belts, 10 IEDs, four mobile phones and three SIM cards were seized during the raid.
As for the documents, they included a list of ISIS members, their names, facilities, and phone numbers, locally and internationally.
The documents also included names of officials of some districts and areas in which ISIS operates.
Dutch troops to resume training mission in Iraq, KRG
The Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said it would resume its military training mission in Iraq and Kurdistan as part of a decision by the US-led coalition.
"Last week, the decision was made to suspend all training as a precaution, due to a higher threat level. That threat level has since been adjusted and the coalition decided to resume the training,” the ministry said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the German and Dutch Defense ministries announced the temporary halt of their training missions in Iraq as tensions continued to heighten from the current Iran crisis.
In response, the foreign relations office of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) called on both Germany and the Netherlands to resume their missions.
On the same day, German Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff claimed the training could resume within a few days.
Iraqi president refuses country to become battleground for U.S.-Iran fight
Iraq's President Barham Salih told CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi that he's talking to both the United States and Iran to keep Iraq from becoming a battleground.
"Iraq has been living through hell for the last four decades," Salih said.
“Certainly, Iraqis do not want to see this country yet again turn into a zone of proxy conflict."
Iraq currently hosts around 5,000 U.S. troops as well as the Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS), which is an umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias that are mostly Shiite groups, all loyal to Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned yesterday that if Iran wants a fight, it would be the "official end" of Iran.
His tweet came after a rocket landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Sunday.
No casualties were reported, and no group has taken responsibility.
Iraqi authorities are searching for whoever fired the rocket.
"These militias, some of which are aligned with Iran, are answering to Iraq, but there may be rogue elements?" asked Saberi.
"We do have problems with some rogue elements," Salih said, "and the government is intent on putting those people under control."
"Have you basically sent a message to cool it?"
"Absolutely," he said. "We are telling everybody, cool it. This is not the place to have your battles on."
It was a message he also shared with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who made a last-minute visit to Iraq earlier this month.
"I think the Iraqi government is doing a lot in order to provide the necessary protection," Salih said.