Middle East

Iraq conflict: Baghdad building wall against IS

Site of attack claimed by so-called Islamic State in Iraq Image copyright EPA
Image caption IS has claimed several recent attacks in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces have begun building a wall around the capital Baghdad in an effort to prevent attacks by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The reported 300km (186 miles) barrier will surround the city from all sides, an official said.

IS controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq and has claimed several recent attacks in the capital.

Last month, 18 people were killed in an attack on a Baghdad shopping centre.

Baghdad military spokesman Abdul Ameer al-Shammari said: "The security barrier around Baghdad will prevent terrorists from infiltrating the capital or smuggling explosives and car bombs to target innocent civilians."

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No date has been given for the completion of the wall.

The barrier will also have a two-metre deep trench running alongside it, Al-Sumariyah news website reported. Surveillance cameras, explosives detection devices and towers will also be installed.

Many parts of the capital are surrounded by concrete barriers. Some of these walls will be taken out of the city's streets and re-installed as part of the new barrier, Mr al-Shammari said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some of Baghdad's controversial concrete barriers will be removed as part of the new wall (File photo)
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Walls and barriers around the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad are expected to remain in place (File photo)

The walls and barriers around the so-called Green Zone are expected to remain, Reuters said.

The heavily fortified zone, created after the US-led coalition toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003, houses the government, parliament and many embassies including those of the US and Britain.

In June 2014, IS seized large parts of northern and western Iraq, and proclaimed the creation of a caliphate stretching across the border with Syria.

The group has continued to launch counter-offensives and attacks in Iraq despite US-led coalition air strikes and ground operations.

In the latest of its attacks, Shia Muslims were targeted by militants on a Baghdad shopping centre, and at least 18 people were killed.