The ousting of Islamic State fighters from Fallujah was supposed to make Baghdad safer, by showing that the jihadists could be defeated and deprived of a safe haven from which to attack the Iraqi capital.
But at midnight on Saturday, just days after Iraq declared victory in Fallujah, a truck bomb detonated in the central Karrada district, killing 215 people in the deadliest single bombing Baghdad has seen in a decade.
For Baghdad’s embattled residents, the blast was revenge for the loss of Fallujah, and yet more tragedy at the hands of IS, also known as ISIS – which they were told was on the run and facing defeat.
“The suffering of our neighbors is unbearable. They are in shock. Children are afraid,” says Amal Hussein, a recent college graduate whose sister’s family lives a block from the attack. Her sister, Zeinab, was inconsolable; four people died in their damaged building. “We spent all night praying for these people.”
While Iraqis mourn, again, analysts say the link between the Fallujah victory and the Baghdad bomb is a microcosm in Iraq of a broader phenomena. As the jihadist group loses ground in battlefields from Iraq and Syria to Libya, it is demonstrating that it can morph its tactics to conduct spectacular suicide attacks with conventional terrorist tools, from the heart of Europe to southern Asia.
This article continues at [Christian Science Monitor] Why ISIS is ‘lashing out,’ from Baghdad to Bangladesh