Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed 28 attacks between mid-June and the end of July, including a coordinated assault on an anti-terror department in central Baghdad two weeks ago.
The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said it killed 70 people in the July 31 attack, but Iraqi security and medical officials put the total death toll for violence in Baghdad that day, including the attack on the anti-terrorism directorate, at 21.
“A group of believers from the Sunni people launched an operation targeting one of the corners of the Safavid project in the country, the anti-terrorism directorate in Karrada,” said a statement posted on jihadist forums on Sunday, referring to Baghdad's main commercial district.
Sunni insurgents often invoke Iran’s Safavid past, referring to the Shiite dynasty that ruled Persia between the 16th and 18th centuries and conquered part of Iraq, when denouncing the Baghdad government, which they say is controlled by Iran.
The statement said the assault was launched as part of the ISI’s campaign to retake territory it had abandoned in the years since the peak of Iraq’s sectarian bloodshed between 2006 and 2008.
It also claimed 27 other attacks, including 19 assassinations with silenced weapons of security forces members and officials, between June 17 and July 20, but several of the alleged killings could not be verified by AFP.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials to be significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country.
The group Al-Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials to be significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country.