WorldWitness: In Iraq, civilians continue to fall victim to...

Witness: In Iraq, civilians continue to fall victim to ISIS attacks


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Death entered Jabar Alwani’s home one December night when Islamic State militants attacked his village in central Iraq, killing police, soldiers and civilians, including his son, grandson and two cousins.

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With its peaceful fields, the village of Albu Bali, located seventy kilometers north of Baghdad, was peaceful, Sheikh Khalis Rashid, the most prominent village of 5,000 people, told AFP, adding: “The village. He generally lived from agriculture, but he had doctors and servants.

However, that calm evaporated in mid-December, when a group of ISIS operatives were seen on a rural road leading to the village.

“We didn’t expect this.”

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Five years ago, the Iraqi government declared a military “victory” over the jihadists, and since then there have been no major attacks in Iraq, but the organization’s cells still carry out regular operations against security forces and civilians.

Abbas Mazhar Hussain, a 34-year-old resident of the village, said “the shooting started accidentally at 8.15 pm… There were martyrs and wounded”.

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The attack left eight dead and six wounded, all civilians, including the son, grandson and two cousins ​​of Jabar Alwani, who live on a farm on the outskirts of the town.

“The feeling is very painful, we didn’t expect that,” says the old man with tears in his eyes.

As for his neighbour, Ali Manwar, he still has scars on his neck from the bullets that pierced him during the attack. “I heard a shot, went out and saw my nephew lying on the floor,” he says.

As Ali Minwar closed the door to protect himself from the attack, ISIS agents fired bullets. One of them scratched his neck and the other penetrated the stone wall of his house, leaving small holes the size of a coin.

The jihadists easily escaped after the attack.

fear of repression

Like most Iraqis, residents of Albu Bal belong to the Shia sect, which the Islamic State extremist group considers a “cult”. The “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack on the village.

In a statement posted on the Telegram app, the jihadists did not name civilians but said they were targeting “renegade Rafidi militias”, referring to the Popular Mobilization Forces, an alliance of armed factions allied with Iran. part of official institutions.

The attack unleashed terror in a country still reeling from decades of war. Sheikh Khalis Rashid says Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudan “contacted me and told me that I ask you to refrain from any reaction” to avoid violence.

There are fears that the Shiite population will retaliate in some neighboring Sunni villages, whose residents they accuse of being soft on Islamic State territory.

“The terrorists are hiding in the countryside and continue to carry out sporadic attacks,” said an Iraqi police colonel who asked not to be named.


Uday al-Khadrani, the district commissioner of Khalis, where Albu Bali is located, explains that the area has become a “transit zone” for jihadists. He adds that the border between his province, Diyala, and the neighboring province of Salah al-Din is “unsafe” and, according to him, has become a corridor to “unsafe” areas in the Kurdistan region.

According to a UN Security Council report released in July 2022, the organization has “up to 6,000 fighters deployed” between Syria and Iraq, most of whom are concentrated in rural areas and are believed to be “mainly Syrians”. and Iraqi citizens.

Al-Khadran added: “ISIS is a gang operation. Today, ISIS is not conducting military operations.”

According to him, “the violation did not occur because of the weakness of the security forces”, but because their number was not enough.

After the attack, about 200 additional members of the army, police and popular mobilization forces were sent to the area, and surveillance cameras were installed in Albu Bali, according to a police colonel.

However, Jabar Alwan still fears “another attack” and says: “This is not the last”.

Source: EuroNews

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