In a bad sign for the future of security in Baghdad, ISIS forces are apparently close enough to the center of the Iraqi capital that they are firing mortars which are landing inside the heavily fortified Green Zone.
Officials in Baghdad confirmed on Tuesday that two mortars landed within 500 meters of the United States embassy in the Green Zone. That portion of the city houses Iraqi government facilities as well as American and British diplomatic installations. ISIS militants on Twitter reportedly claimed credit for striking targets inside the Green Zone moments after the attack.
This dispiriting episode came amid the continued campaign of car bombings aimed at sewing chaos in Baghdad and sapping the city’s residents of confidence in the government and Iraqi Security Forces.
The incident came amid a wave of bombing attacks in and near Baghdad that killed at least 30 people. Police officials said the deadliest attack took place Tuesday afternoon when a double car bomb attack hit Habaybina restaurant in the Shiite-majority district of Talibiya in eastern Baghdad, killing 19 people and wounding 32 others.
Earlier, a bomb struck at an outdoor market in the southern district of Abu Dashir, a mostly Shiite neighborhood, killing four people and wounding nine, police officials said.
Later, a bomb that went off near a small restaurant in central Baghdad killed five people and wounded 12, the officials said. Another bomb exploded at a commercial street in the town of Madian, just south of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four.
Just yesterday, a report in the International Business Times suggested that a significant uptick in car bombings in Baghdad – coinciding with a coordinated attack on 15 targets in northern Iraq including on the Mosul Dam – was a sign of desperation.
“The government in Baghdad is not going to be softened by suicide terrorism,” said, Max Abrahms, a professor of terrorism at Northeastern University. “It is going to harden its resolve to crack down on the perpetrators.”
A first of its kind mortar attack on the symbol of Western authority in Iraq conveys many things to Iraqis, but desperation is not among them.