Iraqi PM gives deadline for commanders to secure Diyala amid mass killings
Following several mass-killings in Diyala province, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has given security commanders two weeks to stabilise the area, the Iraqi government said in a statement.
Sudani, leading a senior military and civilian delegation, visited Diyala province on Wednesday and chaired a meeting of the security commanders in the volatile province bordering Iran.
The visit came after eight civilians were killed and two others were wounded in Diyala’s al-Muqdadiyah district on Tuesday. Muthanna al-Tamimi, governor of the province, told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that the incident was a “criminal” one.
“Sudani has listened to a summary on the province’s conditions and efforts by the security forces to establish security and stability. In the meeting, repeated security breaches in several areas of the province and mechanisms for dealing with them have been discussed,” reads part of the statement as reported by INA.
The Iraqi premier also ordered sending military and security reinforcements to the province.
Sudani stressed that all perpetrators of the recent killings should be brought to justice.
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Nine other people were killed on February 21 in an attack on farmland in Diyala, according to officials. The nine victims were on land close to the village of Al-Jayalah, Diyala's governor said in a statement.
Diyala was previously a Sunni Arab majority province, however they were forced to flee to Iraq's Kurdistan region amid repeated killings and the presence of the Iran-backed militias from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) umbrella group.
Sudani did not directly name those who were responsible for destabilising the province, but said: “Some people dislike the cabinet’s path towards activating economic activities and development".
Sudani vowed he would continue to fulfil his cabinet’s agenda and “no one can put red lines in front of his government”, especially in reinforcing security and imposing the rule of law.
Iraqi tribal leader Sheikh Thaer al-Bayati said in a tweet that the killers in Diyala are “known” and that the two-week deadline “is unnecessary”. He also claimed that most commanders of the security agencies are “linked to the militias and political parties.
The security situation in parts of Diyala province is fragile, with attacks by remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group on civilian and military targets still frequent.
IS captured swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and though they were territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017, remnants of the group are still active in parts of northern and western Iraq.
Raad Al-Dahlaki, a member of parliament in Diyala province, called the incident a "massacre", saying it and other attacks in the area had been conducted by "militant terrorist groups".