Barriers around Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone lifted to ease Baghdad traffic
Barriers around the heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq’s capital began to be lifted and entrances were opened on Sunday as part of a plan to ease congestion in the city.
The Green Zone is home to many government buildings and foreign missions, including the US Embassy, and has been the site of dozens of deadly protests and clashes as well as rocket attacks over the years.
While not the first time, the Green Zone has been closed off since the popular anti-government uprising in October 2019. It was first established in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion.
Iraqi security forces affirmed that the removal of checkpoints and the reopening of some roads into the district will not affect security in Baghdad as they had "the situation under control."
Spokesman of the prime minister’s office, Maj. Gen. Jassim Al-Zubaidi, told The New Arab’s sister site that the removal of security barriers and checkpoints – 100 so far - are among the new government’s priorities to alleviate heavy traffic in Baghdad.
He confirmed to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the area will initially be opened from 5am (2am GMT) until 7pm, while the government of Shia al-Sudani – who took office in late October last year – will work on completely opening the area round the clock in the coming days.
"There are security plans drawn up according to recent developments on the ground," he said, reassuring that security forces had enough intel to thwart any efforts to destabilise security.
The city used to witness near daily attacks in previous years before the Islamic State (IS) group was announced defeated by the Iraqi government in December 2021.
Despite losing the swathes of territory it once controlled, IS sleeper cells continue to wage a low-level insurgency in Iraq, which has seen a spike in attacks in recent months, particularly north of Baghdad.
Member of the Baghdad council security committee, Saad Al-Matlabi, welcomed the decision, telling Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that it helped revive the Iraqi capital and allow civil life to return far from the militarisation of streets.