By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
It has been another brutal week in Iraq with many hundreds killed in a spate of bombings and shootings. August was a particularly bloody month with over 800 civilians reported killed, a figure that does not take into account ISF deaths and casualties. Nearly 5,000 civilians have been killed and 12,000 wounded since the beginning of 2013, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement, the overwhelming majority of which have been as a direct result of operations led by the Iraqi arm of Al Qaeda.We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence at the moment with levels of attacks not seen since 2008.
This week reporting, mainly from government sources, has been confused and deliberately misleading, especially in the wake of an incident that left over 50 civilians dead, reportedly killed by the ISF.
A U.N. team visited an Iranian dissident camp in Iraq on Monday following violence that killed dozens of people a day earlier in disputed circumstances. The bloodshed, condemned by the United Nations, Britain and the United States, took place hours after a mortar bomb attack on the dissident camp, which the Iranian dissident Mujahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) group blamed on the Iraqi army. An adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dismissed the accusations as baseless, however two security sources said on Sunday that the army and special forces had opened fire on residents who stormed a security post at the entrance to Camp Ashraf – a site that Iraq’s pro Iranian government wants closed down.
The same sources said at least 19 people were killed, 52 wounded and 38 arrested and that they believed residents were not armed, however a U.N. statement had a death toll figure of 47, while the MEK said 52 of its roughly 100 members at the camp were killed.
MEK, which the U.S. State Department removed from its list of terrorist organisations last year, wants Iran’s clerical leaders overthrown and fought on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s side during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980s. The group, also known as the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, is no longer welcome in Iraq and remains a thorn in the side of the Shi’ite Muslim-dominated government. Most of the group was relocated last year to a former U.S. military compound in western Baghdad. Mortar attacks on the facility took place in February and June and, at the time, MEK blamed Iran’s Quds force – an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards with a special focus on foreign operations.