On Sunday, November 6, two bombs detonated in the Iraqi cities of Samarra and Tikrit. The attacks killed 21 people and were claimed to have been carried out by Islamic State militants. It is believed that the attacks were planned jointly as the assailants used ambulances filled with explosives in both attacks, detonating in strategic locations.
Sunday’s blasts mimic recent attacks in Kirkuk, carried out by IS in an attempt to divert military and media attention from the current battle of Mosul.
In Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin Province, a suicide attacker rammed an ambulance into a checkpoint in the southern outskirts of the city during early morning peak-hour traffic, killing 13 people. Salahuddin spokesperson, Ali al-Hamdani stated that three policemen, five female students, and a woman were among those killed in the attack, with an estimated 25 people injured.
The second bombing occurred in Samarra, 67 kilometres south of Tikrit, killing a further 8 people, believed to be Iranian pilgrims. The attack was reported to have been carried out inside a car park on the grounds of the al-Askari mosque, a common destination for pilgrims of the Shi’ite Islamic faith and one of Shia’s holiest shrines. The bomber parked his vehicle and walked towards a group of pilgrims, detonating both the vehicle and then, himself.
Authorities in both cities imposed curfews after the twin bombings, stating that they had substantial evidence that further attacks could take place.
Iraq’s army and security forces are fighting the hard-line, Sunni Islamist group in a three-week operation to retake Mosul, with backing from Kurdish forces, Shia militants, and a coalition of Western Forces. As the Islamic State loses ground, diversionary tactics have been used to instill fear and a sense of unpredictability in opposing forces and civilians.
The Islamic State is expected to lose Mosul, however, despite the loss undoubtedly being a blow to the Islamist group, there is much territory still under IS occupation in Western Iraq and Syria. Experts also believe that the loss of territory means that the group’s presence will become less territorial and increasingly insurgent.
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