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Iraq Prime Minister Declares Victory Over ISIS

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Iraqis clearing rubble from their house in Mosul, Iraq, last month. The reconstruction plans for cities like Mosul is among the urgent challenges for the government to ensure stability and security. Credit Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State on Saturday, announcing the end of more than three years of battles to regain control over nearly one-third of the country that had been under the terrorist group’s dominion.

Mr. Abadi’s carefully calibrated statement came months after armed forces had wrested back control over Iraq’s major urban areas, notably its second-largest city, Mosul, and had shifted focus to mopping up remnants of the militants who had escaped or gone underground in the vast desert border areas between Iraq and Syria.

“Our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh,” Mr. Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, known as ISIS or ISIL.

“Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination,” he said.

The Iraqi senior military commander in charge of operations against the Islamic State confirmed that his forces, supported by the American-led coalition, had regained control of the border areas. Military leaders have said they were the last part of the country where ISIS’ supporters could muster any organized resistance.

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The prime minister’s announcement heralded a significant turnaround for the nation’s armed forces and political leadership from the summer of 2014, when the military, hollowed out by years of corruption and inept political decisions, crumbled under the juggernaut of the Islamic State’s once-formidable fighting force.

By June that year, the terrorist group had seized control of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated north and west, putting more than four million Iraqis under its control. At first, some of those Iraqis were willing supporters of the insurgent force, in large part because of the years of sectarian violence and abuse they had experienced from Iraq’s Shiite-majority politicians.

But the puritanical punishments and cruelties ISIS inflicted soon made the group a feared and unwelcome overlord.

Now, Iraqis around the capital and many parts of the liberated regions say they have a newfound pride in their security forces, as well as in their government. Mr. Abadi is routinely cited by supporters and rivals alike as Iraq’s most popular and trusted politician.

Still, security analysts and military commanders warned that the end of large-scale military maneuvers did not mean the end of the Islamic State threat.

Hours before Mr. Abadi’s speech, a bomb suspected of being planted by insurgents exploded in the center of Tikrit, the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein and an area of anti-government activity for many years, before the creation of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate.

Among the urgent challenges officials now face to ensure security and stability are reconstruction plans for cities like Mosul, which was destroyed by the fighting, as well as reconciliation programs for the country’s Sunni and Shiite communities, said Hussein Allawi, a professor of national security at Al Nahrain University in Baghdad.

Some three million Iraqis remain displaced by the war, and municipal services have yet to be restored in many liberated areas.

“The battles against Daesh are over, but the war is not,” Mr. Allawi said.

Hakim al-Zamili, who leads Parliament’s security and defense committee, estimates that about 20,000 hard-core supporters of the Islamic State remain in the country, hidden among the large groups of displaced people or in remote areas of the western deserts.

Iraqi intelligence and other officials over recent weeks have documented the rise of a possibly new violent Islamist movement in the country, which has suffered attacks from various factions of jihadist movements over the past 15 years.

Mr. Zamili and other military officials cautioned that Iraq must devote significant intelligence resources to find and track down these extremists, and that continued military assistance from the American-led coalition was vital to this continuing mission. More than 5,000 American troops are currently based in Iraq, in addition to military trainers from Britain, Italy, Australia and other countries.

“Iraq still needs the intelligence cooperation with the international coalition and neighboring countries because there are many places for ISIS to hide,” said Wathiq al-Hashimi, the chairman of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies, an independent think tank in Baghdad. “ISIS commanders are now in different countries in the world.”

Continue reading the main story

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State on Saturday, announcing the end of more than three years of battles to regain control over nearly one-third of the country that had been under the terrorist group’s dominion.

Mr. Abadi’s carefully calibrated statement came months after armed forces had wrested back control over Iraq’s major urban areas, notably its second-largest city, Mosul, and had shifted focus to mopping up remnants of the militants who had escaped or gone underground in the vast desert border areas between Iraq and Syria.

“Our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh,” Mr. Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, known as ISIS or ISIL.

“Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination,” he said.

The Iraqi senior military commander in charge of operations against the Islamic State confirmed that his forces, supported by the American-led coalition, had regained control of the border areas. Military leaders have said they were the last part of the country where ISIS’ supporters could muster any organized resistance.

The prime minister’s announcement heralded a significant turnaround for the nation’s armed forces and political leadership from the summer of 2014, when the military, hollowed out by years of corruption and inept political decisions, crumbled under the juggernaut of the Islamic State’s once-formidable fighting force.

By June that year, the terrorist group had seized control of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated north and west, putting more than four million Iraqis under its control. At first, some of those Iraqis were willing supporters of the insurgent force, in large part because of the years of sectarian violence and abuse they had experienced from Iraq’s Shiite-majority politicians.

But the puritanical punishments and cruelties ISIS inflicted soon made the group a feared and unwelcome overlord.

Now, Iraqis around the capital and many parts of the liberated regions say they have a newfound pride in their security forces, as well as in their government. Mr. Abadi is routinely cited by supporters and rivals alike as Iraq’s most popular and trusted politician.

Still, security analysts and military commanders warned that the end of large-scale military maneuvers did not mean the end of the Islamic State threat.

Hours before Mr. Abadi’s speech, a bomb suspected of being planted by insurgents exploded in the center of Tikrit, the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein and an area of anti-government activity for many years, before the creation of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate.

Among the urgent challenges officials now face to ensure security and stability are reconstruction plans for cities like Mosul, which was destroyed by the fighting, as well as reconciliation programs for the country’s Sunni and Shiite communities, said Hussein Allawi, a professor of national security at Al Nahrain University in Baghdad.

Some three million Iraqis remain displaced by the war, and municipal services have yet to be restored in many liberated areas.

“The battles against Daesh are over, but the war is not,” Mr. Allawi said.

Hakim al-Zamili, who leads Parliament’s security and defense committee, estimates that about 20,000 hard-core supporters of the Islamic State remain in the country, hidden among the large groups of displaced people or in remote areas of the western deserts.

Iraqi intelligence and other officials over recent weeks have documented the rise of a possibly new violent Islamist movement in the country, which has suffered attacks from various factions of jihadist movements over the past 15 years.

Mr. Zamili and other military officials cautioned that Iraq must devote significant intelligence resources to find and track down these extremists, and that continued military assistance from the American-led coalition was vital to this continuing mission. More than 5,000 American troops are currently based in Iraq, in addition to military trainers from Britain, Italy, Australia and other countries.

“Iraq still needs the intelligence cooperation with the international coalition and neighboring countries because there are many places for ISIS to hide,” said Wathiq al-Hashimi, the chairman of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies, an independent think tank in Baghdad. “ISIS commanders are now in different countries in the world.”

Nytimes

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Iraq

Philippines Arrests Explosives Expert Tied to Mideast Militants

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Director General Ronald dela Rosa of the Philippine National Police. He said Monday that an Iraqi chemist had been arrested after being seen acting “suspiciously” in the northern city of Angeles. Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MANILA — Philippine intelligence operatives have arrested an Iraqi explosives expert who has eluded the local authorities since last year and were checking whether he had been in contact with Filipino militant groups, the police said Monday.

The man, Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri, 64, arrived in the Philippines in August as the country was getting ready to host a gathering of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in preparation for a November summit meeting that included President Trump.

Mr. Jabouri was a “chemist with knowledge of explosives” and is known to have ties to militant extremist movements in the Middle East, said Ronald dela Rosa, director general of the Philippine National Police, citing Iraqi intelligence information.

“The Iraqi Embassy in Manila alerted the Philippine intelligence community of his presence,” he said.

Mr. Jabouri was arrested Saturday after the authorities in the northern city of Angeles advised the police that he was there, the director general said, adding that Mr. Jabouri had been observed acting “suspiciously.”

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Police intelligence operatives were then dispatched to Angeles and found Mr. Jabouri, who gave up peacefully. He was carrying luggage that contained personal items and different denominations of foreign currency, the police said.

Mr. Jabouri admitted while being interrogated that he had served as a consultant for Hamas in Syria before moving to Turkey in 2012.

“He also said that he traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant,” Director General dela Rosa said, without identifying the group.

A police intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators were also checking whether Mr. Jabouri had made any connections to local militant groups, noting that his visit came as the country was fighting Islamic State-linked Filipino militants, backed by foreign fighters, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi.

The fighting, which left at least 1,200 people dead — most of them militants — was declared over in October, although security forces have said nearly 200 Filipino militants who took part in the siege escaped and remained at large.

The arrest came after a year in which the Philippines has grappled with deadly bombings.

In May 2017, the police in Manila placed the crowded Quiapo district under lockdown after two bombs exploded within hours of each other near a Muslim center. Two people were killed, and six others, including two police officers investigating the first blast, were hurt.

A month before those blasts, a pipe bomb also exploded in Quiapo, injuring a dozen people.

The Philippine police had sought to play down the attacks, saying they did not appear to be connected.

But six months earlier, in November 2016, the authorities prevented a bombing when they recovered a powerful explosive device near the American Embassy in Manila. Director General dela Rosa tied that bombing to a Muslim militant faction that would later help lead the Marawi insurgency.

Continue reading the main story

MANILA — Philippine intelligence operatives have arrested an Iraqi explosives expert who has eluded the local authorities since last year and were checking whether he had been in contact with Filipino militant groups, the police said Monday.

The man, Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri, 64, arrived in the Philippines in August as the country was getting ready to host a gathering of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in preparation for a November summit meeting that included President Trump.

Mr. Jabouri was a “chemist with knowledge of explosives” and is known to have ties to militant extremist movements in the Middle East, said Ronald dela Rosa, director general of the Philippine National Police, citing Iraqi intelligence information.

“The Iraqi Embassy in Manila alerted the Philippine intelligence community of his presence,” he said.

Mr. Jabouri was arrested Saturday after the authorities in the northern city of Angeles advised the police that he was there, the director general said, adding that Mr. Jabouri had been observed acting “suspiciously.”

Police intelligence operatives were then dispatched to Angeles and found Mr. Jabouri, who gave up peacefully. He was carrying luggage that contained personal items and different denominations of foreign currency, the police said.

Mr. Jabouri admitted while being interrogated that he had served as a consultant for Hamas in Syria before moving to Turkey in 2012.

“He also said that he traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant,” Director General dela Rosa said, without identifying the group.

A police intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators were also checking whether Mr. Jabouri had made any connections to local militant groups, noting that his visit came as the country was fighting Islamic State-linked Filipino militants, backed by foreign fighters, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi.

The fighting, which left at least 1,200 people dead — most of them militants — was declared over in October, although security forces have said nearly 200 Filipino militants who took part in the siege escaped and remained at large.

The arrest came after a year in which the Philippines has grappled with deadly bombings.

In May 2017, the police in Manila placed the crowded Quiapo district under lockdown after two bombs exploded within hours of each other near a Muslim center. Two people were killed, and six others, including two police officers investigating the first blast, were hurt.

A month before those blasts, a pipe bomb also exploded in Quiapo, injuring a dozen people.

The Philippine police had sought to play down the attacks, saying they did not appear to be connected.

But six months earlier, in November 2016, the authorities prevented a bombing when they recovered a powerful explosive device near the American Embassy in Manila. Director General dela Rosa tied that bombing to a Muslim militant faction that would later help lead the Marawi insurgency.

Nytimes

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Iraq

Military Shifts Focus to Threats by Russia and China, Not Terrorism

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke Friday at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Credit Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States is switching its priority to countering Chinese and Russian military might after almost two decades of focusing on the fight against terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, unveiling a national defense strategy that Pentagon officials say will provide a blueprint for years to come.

The new strategy echoes — on paper, if not in tone — a national security blueprint offered last month in which President Trump described rising threats to the United States from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from what was described as rogue governments like North Korea and Iran.

But where Mr. Trump struck a campaign tone during the unveiling of his national security strategy, with references to building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, Mr. Mattis took a more sober route by sticking to the more traditional intellectual framework that has accompanied foreign policy doctrines of past administrations.

Drawing inspiration from Winston Churchill, who once said that the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them, Mr. Mattis said that the United States must strengthen its alliances with other powers.

“History proves that nations with allies thrive,” Mr. Mattis said in remarks at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.” (One of those allies, Britain’s defense secretary, quickly released a statement welcoming Mr. Mattis’s words.)

Continue reading the main story

Unlike Mr. Trump, who said Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth” without mentioning Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Mattis appeared to take direct aim at Russia. “To those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he said.

In seeking to shift the military emphasis to Russia and China after years fighting terrorism, the Trump administration is echoing many of the same pronouncements made by the Obama administration, which famously sought to pivot to Asia after years of fighting in Iraq. But the rise of the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, put a stop to the Asia pivot talk in Mr. Obama’s final years in office.

Now a new administration is again seeking to leave the terrorism fight behind. Mr. Mattis described increased “global volatility and uncertainty, with great power competition between nations a reality once again.” He declared the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mr. Mattis said.

But the United States is still at war in Afghanistan, where Mr. Trump has promised to set no artificial deadlines for withdrawing troops against a resilient Taliban. And American pilots and Special Operations forces continue to go after militants fighting with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Shabab from Syria to Yemen to Somalia.

But as tensions in the Korean Peninsula have continued to rise over the past year, American military commanders and senior defense officials have fretted over whether 16 years of counterinsurgency fighting has left the military unprepared for a great powers land war.

Pentagon officials say that the need to do both — fight insurgents and prepare for a potential war among great powers — is pushing a military that is already stretched. Added to that is the uncertainty that has plagued the Pentagon’s budget since 2011, when mandatory spending caps were put in place.

Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill, and on Friday the federal government was, once again, teetering on the edge of a shutdown. Mr. Mattis, during his speech on Friday, took aim at the budget shenanigans.

“As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the budget control act’s defense spending caps, and nine of the last 10 years operating under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — The United States is switching its priority to countering Chinese and Russian military might after almost two decades of focusing on the fight against terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday, unveiling a national defense strategy that Pentagon officials say will provide a blueprint for years to come.

The new strategy echoes — on paper, if not in tone — a national security blueprint offered last month in which President Trump described rising threats to the United States from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from what was described as rogue governments like North Korea and Iran.

But where Mr. Trump struck a campaign tone during the unveiling of his national security strategy, with references to building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, Mr. Mattis took a more sober route by sticking to the more traditional intellectual framework that has accompanied foreign policy doctrines of past administrations.

Drawing inspiration from Winston Churchill, who once said that the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them, Mr. Mattis said that the United States must strengthen its alliances with other powers.

“History proves that nations with allies thrive,” Mr. Mattis said in remarks at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.” (One of those allies, Britain’s defense secretary, quickly released a statement welcoming Mr. Mattis’s words.)

Unlike Mr. Trump, who said Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth” without mentioning Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Mattis appeared to take direct aim at Russia. “To those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he said.

In seeking to shift the military emphasis to Russia and China after years fighting terrorism, the Trump administration is echoing many of the same pronouncements made by the Obama administration, which famously sought to pivot to Asia after years of fighting in Iraq. But the rise of the Islamic State, which declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, put a stop to the Asia pivot talk in Mr. Obama’s final years in office.

Now a new administration is again seeking to leave the terrorism fight behind. Mr. Mattis described increased “global volatility and uncertainty, with great power competition between nations a reality once again.” He declared the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mr. Mattis said.

But the United States is still at war in Afghanistan, where Mr. Trump has promised to set no artificial deadlines for withdrawing troops against a resilient Taliban. And American pilots and Special Operations forces continue to go after militants fighting with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Shabab from Syria to Yemen to Somalia.

But as tensions in the Korean Peninsula have continued to rise over the past year, American military commanders and senior defense officials have fretted over whether 16 years of counterinsurgency fighting has left the military unprepared for a great powers land war.

Pentagon officials say that the need to do both — fight insurgents and prepare for a potential war among great powers — is pushing a military that is already stretched. Added to that is the uncertainty that has plagued the Pentagon’s budget since 2011, when mandatory spending caps were put in place.

Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill, and on Friday the federal government was, once again, teetering on the edge of a shutdown. Mr. Mattis, during his speech on Friday, took aim at the budget shenanigans.

“As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the budget control act’s defense spending caps, and nine of the last 10 years operating under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Nytimes

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Iraq

Suicide Bombs in Baghdad Kill Dozens, Puncturing Newfound Sense of Hope

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The site of a bomb blast in Baghdad on Monday. The attackers struck during rush hour in the city’s Tayran Square, which is usually crowded with laborers seeking work. Credit Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers killed more than two dozen people in Baghdad on Monday, mostly street vendors and day laborers gathered at dawn in hopes of finding work at an open-air market, in the first major attack in the Iraqi capital since the government declared victory over the Islamic State.

The carnage in Tayaran Square punctured a growing sense of hope and pride that had permeated Baghdad after Iraq’s security forces, bolstered by large numbers of volunteers and fresh recruits, successfully fought grueling battles against the insurgent group that had held one-third of Iraqi territory and terrorized millions of citizens.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but officials in charge of security in the capital immediately cast suspicion on Islamic State sleeper cells, the target of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism forces since major military operations ended in the fall.

Even as battles against Islamic State militants raged in northern Iraq and in its second-largest city, Mosul, Baghdad had largely been free of violence. The suicide bombings Monday morning caught many residents of the capital off guard, as they had become used to living relatively free of fear, taking their families to parks and shopping malls.

The attacks came a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other politicians announced competing coalitions ahead of national elections scheduled for May. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, campaign seasons in Iraq have been scarred by terrorist attacks and other violence.

Continue reading the main story

It is still unclear how the two assailants wearing suicide vests had entered Baghdad or why they had chosen to attack a market popular for cheap electronics and secondhand clothes.

The first assailant detonated his explosives around 6 a.m., as the sun was rising and as day laborers, shopkeepers and street vendors started gathering for work, according to Maj. Muhammad Mudhir, a traffic police officer who witnessed the attack. Minutes later, as people rushed to help the wounded, the second assailant detonated his explosives, said Kadhim Ali, a construction worker who was at the square.

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Iraq’s Hardball Tactics to Root Out ISIS

Some of the methods Iraqi authorities are using to weed out ISIS supporters among Sunni civilians in newly liberated Mosul have heightened concerns over human rights abuses.

By CAMILLA SCHICK and TIM ARANGO on Publish Date July 21, 2017. Photo by Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

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Dr. Abdul Ghani, the director of Al Rusafa hospital in Baghdad, said at least 27 people had been killed, and 60 others wounded, many of whom were in a serious condition.

Since counterterrorism operations were ramped up in 2015, Iraqi security forces have established a tight security cordon around Baghdad in an attempt to keep insurgents and violence from infiltrating the city.

The belt of suburbs and farms to the west of the capital have long been home to bomb factories for Al Qaeda offshoots that have plagued Iraq since the mid-2000s.

Muhammad al-Jiwebrawi, the head of the Baghdad Province’s security committee, said those areas around the capital remained insecure. He urged the government to increase intelligence operations around the city to flush out insurgents.

“Islamic State terrorists are still present,” Mr. Jiwebrawi said. “There are reasons for what they are doing.”

Although the areas around the capital have been relatively safe compared with previous years, violence has not disappeared.

On Jan. 13, an insurgent detonated an explosive vest near a convoy carrying the head of Baghdad’s provincial government, wounding four Iraqi security forces.

A suicide bombing on a checkpoint in the north of the city on Saturday killed at least five people, according to the Iraqi police.

Continue reading the main story

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers killed more than two dozen people in Baghdad on Monday, mostly street vendors and day laborers gathered at dawn in hopes of finding work at an open-air market, in the first major attack in the Iraqi capital since the government declared victory over the Islamic State.

The carnage in Tayaran Square punctured a growing sense of hope and pride that had permeated Baghdad after Iraq’s security forces, bolstered by large numbers of volunteers and fresh recruits, successfully fought grueling battles against the insurgent group that had held one-third of Iraqi territory and terrorized millions of citizens.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but officials in charge of security in the capital immediately cast suspicion on Islamic State sleeper cells, the target of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism forces since major military operations ended in the fall.

Even as battles against Islamic State militants raged in northern Iraq and in its second-largest city, Mosul, Baghdad had largely been free of violence. The suicide bombings Monday morning caught many residents of the capital off guard, as they had become used to living relatively free of fear, taking their families to parks and shopping malls.

The attacks came a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other politicians announced competing coalitions ahead of national elections scheduled for May. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, campaign seasons in Iraq have been scarred by terrorist attacks and other violence.

It is still unclear how the two assailants wearing suicide vests had entered Baghdad or why they had chosen to attack a market popular for cheap electronics and secondhand clothes.

The first assailant detonated his explosives around 6 a.m., as the sun was rising and as day laborers, shopkeepers and street vendors started gathering for work, according to Maj. Muhammad Mudhir, a traffic police officer who witnessed the attack. Minutes later, as people rushed to help the wounded, the second assailant detonated his explosives, said Kadhim Ali, a construction worker who was at the square.

Dr. Abdul Ghani, the director of Al Rusafa hospital in Baghdad, said at least 27 people had been killed, and 60 others wounded, many of whom were in a serious condition.

Since counterterrorism operations were ramped up in 2015, Iraqi security forces have established a tight security cordon around Baghdad in an attempt to keep insurgents and violence from infiltrating the city.

The belt of suburbs and farms to the west of the capital have long been home to bomb factories for Al Qaeda offshoots that have plagued Iraq since the mid-2000s.

Muhammad al-Jiwebrawi, the head of the Baghdad Province’s security committee, said those areas around the capital remained insecure. He urged the government to increase intelligence operations around the city to flush out insurgents.

“Islamic State terrorists are still present,” Mr. Jiwebrawi said. “There are reasons for what they are doing.”

Although the areas around the capital have been relatively safe compared with previous years, violence has not disappeared.

On Jan. 13, an insurgent detonated an explosive vest near a convoy carrying the head of Baghdad’s provincial government, wounding four Iraqi security forces.

A suicide bombing on a checkpoint in the north of the city on Saturday killed at least five people, according to the Iraqi police.

Nytimes

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