IS truck bomb kills 70 in Iraq as Shiite pilgrims travel

November 24, 2016 | By | Reply More

A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 70 people, mainly Shiite pilgrims, south of Baghdad Thursday, in the latest jihadist attack as Iraqi forces battle to retake Mosul.

Shiite pilgrimsThe huge truck bomb blast ripped through a petrol station where buses packed with faithful returning from the Arbaeen commemoration in Karbala were parked, officials said.

Most of the victims were Iranians, the largest contingent of foreigners in the pilgrimage, which is one of the world’s largest religious events and culminated on Monday.

The attack took place near a village called Shomali, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

IS, which is fighting to defend its Mosul stronghold in northern Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee for Babylon, the province where the bombing happened, said it had targeted several buses.

“A large truck exploded among them.  “There are at least 70 dead, fewer than 10 are Iraqis, the rest are Iranians.”

Videos circulating on social media showed debris scattered over a large area along the main highway linking Baghdad to the main southern port city of Basra.

– Diversionary attacks –

Up to 20 million people visited Karbala, home to the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, for Arbaeen this year. According to the Iraqi authorities, around three million of them were Iranians.

Iraq had deployed around 25,000 members of the security forces in and around the shrine city, which lies southwest of Baghdad, to protect the Shiite pilgrims from a feared IS attack.

The jihadist group, which is losing ground in Mosul, has carried out a series of high-profile diversionary attacks since Iraqi forces launched a huge offensive against their northern stronghold last month.

Elite forces battled IS jihadists in eastern Mosul Thursday, looking for fresh momentum in their five-week-old offensive to retake Iraq’s second city.

Maan al-Saadi, a commander with the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), told on the front line in Mosul that his forces were fighting IS in the neighbourhood of Al-Khadraa.

“They cannot flee. They have two choices — give up or die,” he said.

Over the past few days, Iraqi forces have cut off the main supply line running from Mosul to the western border with Syria, where IS still controls the city of Raqa.

The US-led coalition also bombed bridges over the Tigris river that splits Mosul in two, reducing the jihadists’ ability to resupply the eastern front.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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