Iraq introduces new measures to protect Baghdad

Iraq introduces new measures to protect Baghdad
The bolstering of armed forces in and around Baghdad is one of a number of measures introduced to protect the Iraqi capital from likely attacks by extremists.
3 min read
06 July, 2015
The perceived threat from IS is growing in Baghdad [Metrography]

The Iraqi government has introduced a number of sudden  changes to its security policy, in an attempt to protect Baghdad from any potential Islamic State group advance on the capital.

"The commander-in-chief of the armed forces [Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi] has ordered the formation of a new unit equipped with the latest weapons and equipment to protect the capital Baghdad," Samir al-Shuaili, a spokesman for Iraq's anti-terror forces, said in a press release.

"Forces from the newly formed unit have already taken positions in the areas where terrorism might exist through its incubators," continued the statement, which added that "the protection of Baghdad" would be "one of the priorities of the unit".

A source from within the Baghdad Operations Command confirmed the deployment, saying that Abadi had held a number of meetings during Ramadan, in which he ordered urgent plans to be put in to place for the defence of Baghdad.

"Several plans were presented to Abadi, who chose a plan to assign the security of Baghdad to the anti-terror forces and form a new unit responsible for dealing with emerging dangers," the source told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"The leading role played by Baghdad Operations Command in securing the capital has been assigned to the anti-terror forces, and the Operations Command is now a supporting force."

     There has been information about IS plans to attack Baghdad during the Eid period
- Baghdad Operations Command source

The source went into detail on the plan, and said that it included concentrating a military presence in the areas that form Baghdad's outer belt, especially in the west, and that the plan involved working with residents to expose IS sleeper cells.

"Abadi has decided to personally oversee the issue of Baghdad's security with the anti-terror forces," the source added. "There has been information about IS plans to attack Baghdad during the Eid period, which is what pushed Abadi to take these sudden measures and changes."

However, Firas al-Ethawi, a security expert, said that the sudden moves by Abadi raised concerns over the proximity of IS to Baghdad.

"It seems that Abadi is basing his actions on new intelligence, [yet] the plan to protect Baghdad from the inside confirms the huge security failure and the clear inability to avert the danger of IS from the capital," Ethawi said.

"The security plans to protect Baghdad should be based on security of the provinces neighbouring Baghdad rather than securing it from within," Ethawi added. "These procedures show confusion and an inability to manage the capital's security."

Meanwhile, an armed group have attacked a military facility in the town of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

An Iraqi police source told al-Araby last week that the plan to protect Baghdad included securing Baghdad's western belt, around Abu Ghraib, through constant searches to control any sleeper cells that could assist IS in entering the capital.