The Shiite cleric accuses corrupt officials of security negligence
Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr warns of ISIS resurgence in Mosul
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr warned on Wednesday that Mosul may fall back into the hands of terrorists if the government remains in deadlock over power sharing.
"Mosul is in danger and terrorist cells remain active there," Mr Al Sadr said on Twitter, adding that the security of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is capital, has deteriorated at the hands of corrupt politicians.
Since Baghdad declared victory against ISIS in December, the group which once occupied a third of the country continues to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings and still poses a threat along the Syrian border.
A number of bomb blasts have shattered the relative calm in post-ISIS Mosul in recent months, including a car bomb earlier this month that killed at least five people and wounded 14 others, according to Reuters.
The car bomb detonated near a restaurant in the west of the city. "A terrorist attack via car bomb hit near a restaurant in western Mosul," Iraq's security services said in a statement.
ISIS overran Mosul in 2014, transforming the northern city into its de facto Iraq capital until government forces recaptured it in a nine month battle that culminated in July 2017.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said last week that hundreds of insurgents are trying to cross into Iraq from Syria as Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces carry out an operation to clear the last ISIS-held pocket in Syria.
Mr Abdul Mahdi the extremists are gearing up to recapture territory they lost to the Iraqi military, but the premier reassured the public by stating that "Iraqi forces are carrying out their duties to pre-empt any attempts by ISIS to infiltrate the border and cross into Iraq”.
On Wednesday, Iraqi forces announced that they killed 15 ISIS fighters inside a tunnel during a search operation in the northern Sunni-majority Salahuddin province.
Security forces "have completed a search operation which led to the destruction of two hideouts used by the terrorists and the killing of 15 elements inside a large tunnel," a spokesman for the military's Joint Operations Command said in a statement. It did not say when the incident took place.
ISIS sleeper cells remain active in across Nineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala, and Kirkuk provinces.
The development comes as parliament is in deadlock over corruption allegations, the 2019 budget and the appointment of key ministerial positions such as interior and defence.
Wednesday's session is expected to question the Central Bank Governor, Ali Allaq, after millions of dollars stored in public bank coffers were damaged by heavy rain.
Iraq is ranked 169 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
The new government faces an immense task in rebuilding a country ravaged by the war against ISIS, fierce sectarian infighting and the US-led 2003 invasion.
It will also have to deal with the scourges of corruption, power shortages and decaying public services.