The Rise of Islamic State Sleeper Cells in Baghdad

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On Feb. 28, the Islamic State (IS) attacked the headquarters of the Iraqi army’s 22nd Brigade in Abu Ghraib city, west of Baghdad, killing 13 soldiers. The Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization Units supporting them killed the attackers and took control of the situation.

On the same day, two suicide bombers affiliated with IS attacked a public market in Sadr City, east of Baghdad, killing 70 people and wounding more than 100 others.

It seems the two attacks were coordinated in their pursuit of media and political objectives. On Feb. 29, IS published photos showing the attack of its militants on the 22nd Brigade headquarters as well as the battle that was raging only 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Baghdad International Airport, where Iraqi security forces were deployed.

On that tragic day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the explosion sites in Sadr City, and his press office issued a statement reading, “After the criminal IS was defeated several times thanks to our heroic fighters, it targeted innocent civilians when it failed to confront the army. Its remnants ran away from the battlefields before the eyes of the ardent fighters.

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