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Dispatches: Bloody Attacks a Test of Iraq’s Resolve

Preventing Acts of Revenge, Finding Those Responsible Should be Priority

I awoke Sunday to the horror of another massive ISIS suicide bombing, this one targeting people shopping for the Eid holiday in Karrada, a district in Baghdad. For the last day and a half, I watched the death toll rise to at least 165 people, another 225 wounded. This was the deadliest attack against civilians in Iraq this year. Later the same day, another suicide attack in al-Shaab area in Baghdad killed at least two civilians. The perpetrators of this latter attack are so far not known.

A girl walks past the site after a suicide car bomb attack at the shopping area of Karrada, a largely Shi'ite district, in Baghdad, Iraq July 4, 2016.  © 2016 Reuters

I was in Baghdad on May 23, when the Iraqi military launched the operation to retake Falluja from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. During my days in the city, most spent in and around the district of Karrada, several residents said the one silver lining of the ongoing battle against ISIS was that although suicide attackers continued to target some Shia neighborhoods, overall Baghdad was experiencing its safest period since 2003. Little did they know the violence that was about to be unleashed on them.

This heinous, deliberate murder of civilians constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Like the many attacks that have come before it, this will test the Iraqi authorities’ commitment to build a rights-respecting society. That means holding accountable those behind these attacks, while preventing attacks of retribution, whether by government forces or affiliated militias. 

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