Iraq: spectacular terror, invisible starvation

The ongoing terror in Iraq that has now become so routine as to win little note from the world media, today's entry was so horrifc as to win headlines and high Google rankings. Four car bombings in Baghdad claimed at least 88 lives, by the most recent count. The deadliest blast hit the Shi'ite district of Sadr City, killing at least 60 and wounding more than 100. The target was apparently a beauty salon in a crowded market, and most of the victims were women. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks via social media. (Al Jazeera) The escalation of terror may be a response to the fact that ISIS is losing ground. On the same day as the blasts, the Iraqi government announced that ISIS-controlled areas have been reduced to 14% of the country's territory—down form 40% after the Islamic State's initial irruption in 2014. Over the past year, ISIS has lost control of the cities of Ramadi, Tikrit, and Hit. (Reuters) "As we have seen as the enemy loses more and more terrain, they resort to these more desperate attacks," Maj Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of combined joint land forces for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters at the Pentagon. (Daily Beast)

Winning even less coverage than the near-daily terror is the privation and hunger—now approaching starvation—in ISIS-controlled areas under governmnet siege. The BBC today runs video clips of niqab-clad women in Fallujah imploring the government to lift the siege on the city to allow urgently needed food and medicine to thousands of residents. Their deperation and anguish are evident, although it is not made clear if reporters entered the city to interview them or if they made the video clips themselves and got them out via the Internet. The report said the women were later punushed by ISIS. Fallujah has been besieged for six months in preparation for an all-out offensive to take the city from ISIS. The BBC says it has learned that many residents have died of starvation and many others are surviving on grass and animal fodder. (BBC News)

  1. More terror in Baghdad

    Three bombings in Baghdad killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100. A suicide bombing in a marketplace in the Shi'ite district of al-Shaab killed 38 and wounded over 70, while a car bomb in the nearby Sadr City left at least 19 more dead. ISIS claimed responsibility. Another car bombing, in the mixed southern neighbourhood of al-Rasheed, killed six and wounded 20. (Al Jazeera)