ISIL truck bomb kills at least 60 people in Iraqi capital
BAGHDAD – Reuters
Residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack at a checkpoint in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, March 6, 2016. REUTERS PhotoThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack with an explosive-laden fuel tanker on an Iraqi police checkpoint south of Baghdad, killing at least 60 people, as Iraqi forces make preparations to launch an operation against ISIL to take Mosul back.
Responsibility of the bombing was claimed in a post on the website of the Amaq news agency, which supports the ultra-hardline Sunni group.
“A martyr’s operation with a truck bomb hit the Babylon Ruins checkpoint at the entrance of the city of Hilla, killing and wounding dozens,” the statement on the Amaq website said.
Hilla is the capital of the Babylon province, a predominantly Shi’ite region with some Sunni presence.
“It’s the largest bombing in the province to date,” Falah al-Radhi, the head of the provincial security committee, told Reuters. “The checkpoint, the nearby police station were destroyed as well as some houses and dozens of cars.”
A provincial hospital official confirmed the number of casualties. Many suffered burn injuries.
One day prior to the bombing, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk said the operation to liberate Mosul from ISIL was underway.
“The operation to liberate Mosul, Isolating Mosul, is already underway,” said McGurk, according to a video released on rudaw.net.
“So you’ve heard about the movement of forces to Makhmour to begin to get some forces in place to begin, to organize this overall endeavor.”
But McGurk said the operation in Mosul would be very complicated and that it was important to ensure that it was well planned in all aspects.
“I will say Mosul will be very complicated; it will be a mix of forces and it will be very important to ensure it’s well planned. It’s well planned from a military perspective, it’s well planned from a humanitarian perspective and it’s well planned from a political perspective,” he explained.