Iraq forces in Ramadi were the target of suicide bombers that killed and wounded dozens, as well as destroying military and police installations in Baghdad on Sunday morning. The bombers rigged two military-style Humvees with explosives before crashing them into a building at a special forces security base and a police checkpoint, according to reports from the Sydney Morning Herald. The targets were located in central Ramadi, which lies in western Anbar province, west of Baghdad.
The explosion killed civilians, medical and police personnel. The exact number that were killed is unknown, but estimates range between 10 and 37, with many others wounded. A nine-story building on the security base took the brunt of the property damage. Iraqi forces are straining to regain control in the Anbar capital since combatants seized control in parts of Anbar, frequently shuffling control of the area since beginning a widespread jihadist offensive in June that overran five Iraqi provinces.
An alliance of the Iraqi army, Kurdish forces, Shiite militia and U.S. air forces were claiming a hard-won victory in the long-standing siege by Sunni extremists in the northern region of Amerli on Saturday. The Sunni’s were threatening to execute thousands of local Shiites and were finally thwarted when U.S. airstrikes coupled with supply drops for relief of the distressed citizens arrived Saturday night, shortly before the bombs hit in Ramadi. Amerli’s villages have been overshadowed by Turkish Shiites, whom the Islamic State considers infidels. The liberation of the population was not complete, according to security officials, although the ground forces had driven the militants out of several villages and opened up the east side. Fighting continued in the region Sunday afternoon.
Despite running separate operations in Iraq, the United States and Iran are allies in the ongoing struggle against the Islamic State. Nonetheless, the American government has been hesitant to cooperate with Shiite militias in Iraq, relegating them to the primary task of looking after Baghdad security and holding back the encroachment of the Islamic State. Some find the success of this plan questionable at best.
The White House has tried to avoid taking sides in the internal Iraqi conflict but the bombing in Ramadi demonstrates the increasing atrocities perpetrated by the forces of Islamic State rule. The need for humanitarian intervention on the part of the threats against the residents of Amerli seemed to tip the scales in favor of U.S. involvement in the long standing Middle East crisis. In a reversal of allegiance, Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, who previously fought passionately against the United States before its military role in Iraq ended in 2011, today played a key role in the battle for Amerli. Mahdi Taqi, a member of Salahuddin province’s regional council thanked the militia for sacrificing their lives on Amerli’s behalf. Amerli’s citizens courageously opted to stay and defend their homes against the Islamic State instead of retreating as other communities have done when faced with the terror.
Operations in Amerli coupled with the Ramadi bombing once again highlight the expanding violence raging in Iraq between uncompromising forces in the last few years. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq reports 5,576 civilian casualties and 11,666 wounded in the first half of 2014 alone, making it the worst violence Iraq has seen to date in the ongoing struggle with no end in sight.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser