Security

Iraq arrests ISIS terror cell over deadly Baghdad bombing

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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Iraqis attend a funeral for a family killed in an explosion a day earlier at a market in Baghdad's Sadr City, on July 20. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in which at least 36 people were killed. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

BAGHDAD -- The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) terror cell that was behind last week's deadly bombing at a Baghdad market had planned more attacks during Eid-al Adha, Iraq's interior ministry said Sunday (July 25).

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi on Saturday announced the arrest of a "terror cell" behind the July 19 attack, carried out on the eve of Eid al-Adha at al-Woheilat market in Sadr City.

At least 36 people were killed in the attack, excluding the direct perpetrator.

"We have arrested all the members of the cowardly terrorist cell that planned and perpetrated the attack, and they will be put before a judge today," Kadhemi said on Twitter.

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A children's playground in Baghdad's Sadr City, usually bustling during the Eid al-Adha holiday, remains empty on July 21 in the aftermath of a deadly attack claimed by ISIS. A six-member ISIS 'terror cell' has since been arrested. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

The ministry released photos of five arrested suspects, including three brothers.

On Sunday, authorities in the Kurdish region said they had detained another suspect following a request from Baghdad, bringing the number of arrests to six.

Iraqi security forces have dismantled "two terrorist networks in the provinces of Anbar and Kirkuk responsible for the July 19 attack in Sadr City", an interior ministry statement said.

"They were planning other attacks in other parts of Baghdad and other provinces during Eid," the statement added.

Iraqi television broadcast the confessions of five suspects, who were dressed in yellow prison suits, a common practice in major criminal cases in Iraq.

The announcement of the dismantling of the cell came on the eve of Kadhemi's departure for Washington, where he met Monday with US President Joe Biden.

A discussion about the presence of US troops in Iraq -- some 2,500 US troops are deployed to assist Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS as part of the international coalition -- was expected to be at the heart of the meeting.

Iraq declared ISIS defeated in 2017 after a fierce three-year campaign, and attacks became relatively rare in Baghdad -- until January, when a twin ISIS-claimed suicide bombing killed 32 people in another market.

The extremist group retains sleeper cells in remote desert and mountain areas.

Humanitarian aid to Iraq

The United States on Monday announced it would provide nearly $155 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Iraq as well as Iraqi refugees in the region and the communities hosting them.

The additional funding from the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), brings US humanitarian support for Iraq to more than $200 million to date in fiscal year 2021, the State Department said.

Since fiscal year 2014, the United States has provided more than $3 billion in humanitarian assistance in Iraq and for Iraqis in the region.

"US-funded programmes will support Iraqis displaced by ISIS, many of whom also continue to face hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic," the State Department said.

These programmes will help Iraqis displaced by ISIS access civil documentation and legal services, improve the capacity of health care facilities, and increase access to education and livelihood opportunities.

The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

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Iraq has to benefit from patriotic leaders only and punish corrupt officials. Iraq also must open up to European and other countries.

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