It’s believed that up to 100 Shia pilgrims have been killed in a suicide attack in the Iraqi city of Hilla, approximately 60 miles south of the capital Baghdad. The Shia pilgrims were killed when a truck packed with a massive payload of sodium nitrate was exploded at a petrol station in the city. The responsibility for the attack has been claimed by terrorist group ISIS.
The petrol station was targeted as it was known that buses that were transporting the pilgrims from their trip from Kerbala were parked at the station. Kerbals is place of high holy significance for Iraqi Shia Muslims. The attack on Shia’s is based on the ISIS philosophy that Shia’s are apostates, and by their law apostates are to be killed.
Iraq has been the centre of many attacks by ISIS, as it has a large Shia majority (approx 60%) and also fairly weakened security. It’s also thought of as an easier way of upsetting Iraq’s neighbors Iran, who are at the center of an offensive against ISIS. Indeed in recent years relations between the two former nations that were formerly Persia have gone from strength to strength, making Iraq a rather natural target for ISIS.
This horrific attack is one of many similar in the region as ISIS desperately bids to do damage to Iran, but ISIS faces an existential crisis that surely cannot be lost on the terrorist faction. In Syria they are part of a complicated proxy civil war, but are generally thought to be losing ground, whilst also in Libya they’re being driven back by Libyan forces. All this whilst president elect Donald Trump is more likely than his outgoing predecessor to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin with regards to defeating the group all together. Surely the presence of so many enemies at many of their fronts spells the end of ISIS.
This attack seems to be a rather desperate attempt by the group, as in the north of Iraq they’re in danger of losing their Iraqi stronghold of the city of Mosul. Which is currently being attacked by coalition forces of US and local troops. The hope for many is that with the removal of ISIS there can be a genuine and lasting ceasefire in Syria. With hope that a diplomatic solution can bring a swift end to a genuinely horrific civil war there.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.