Samarra, is an ISIS occupied town and home to two very important Shia shrines. Although Samarra is a Sunni populated city, the recent attack targeted Shia pilgrims with and was perpetrated with the intent to destroy two important Shia shrines. As many as 54 people were killed and the shine is still under ISIS siege with pilgrims inside as of yesterday.
According to Reuters, ISIS advanced on Samarra in pick-up trucks, raiding checkpoints along the way and blowing up a police station in an attack that killed several policemen. They also occupied Samarra’s two largest mosques and announced the “liberation” of the city via loudspeaker, urging residents to join their jihad (holy war) against the government.
As a result the Iraqi government bombed the city and a curfew has been imposed on Samarra and neighboring villages. As many as 54 were killed since last night and many more have been injured. ISIS has moved towardMosulandthere is conflict in that area as well.
Attacks against Shia shrines and pilgrims have been an ongoing issue in this country. Every year millions of Shia Muslims visit shrines in Iraq as an important part of their religious expression. . Yesterday’s attack carried by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group known by the acronym ISIS, is one of the most extreme examples of a systematic violation of Shia rights by terrorist groups.
Shia Rights Watch is concerned for the Shia population in Iraq and urges the Iraqi government to retake the areas from ISIS and protect local citizens and pilgrims. Such a powerful attack and large number of ISIS occupying a city overnight raises question about the security reinforcement in that area.