Iraqi intelligence foils IS plot to attack Shia shrines

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Baghdad, July 30 (IANS) The Iraqi intelligence service has thwarted a plot by the Islamic State group to carry out attacks against Shia shrines and the house of the most revered Shia leader, the media reported on Sunday.

“The terrorist Daesh (IS) was prepared for three separate operations from outside Iraq to attack the shrines of Shia Imams in Karbala, Najaf and Samarra provinces, and the residence of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The group also aimed at attacking a mosque in the town of Kufa and some crowded areas in the oil-hub city of Basra in southern Iraq, with the objective of igniting sectarian strife between the Shia and Sunni Muslims.

“The attacks were designed to be carried out by car bombers and dozens of suicide bombers of different nationalities,” an intelligence official said.

The intelligence information was presented to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Iraqi forces, and to Interior Minister Qassim al-Aaraji to get orders to carry out pre-emptive airstrikes against terrorists.

The Iraqi warplanes destroyed seven IS posts, where dozens of IS militants and their booby-trapped vehicles were gathering, in the IS-held areas of Mayadeen inside Syria and the Iraqi town of al-Qaim near the border with Syria, leaving dozens of IS militants killed, according to the official.

The holy Shia city of Karbala, about 110 km from Baghdad, is home to a shrine that includes Imams Hussein and Abbas, while Najaf, about 160 km from Baghdad, is home to the shrine of Imam Ali, as well as the house of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Samarra, about 120 km from Baghdad, is home to a shrine that includes the two Imams of Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari.

“The scheme is the most dangerous in the history of Iraq which, if succeeded, would drag Iraq into an unknown dark tunnel and a spiral of violence and blood,” the official added.

–IANS

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