The American "Foreign Policy" magazine has published a journalistic investigation about one of the consequences of the armed conflicts that Iraq was the scene of since its war with Iran in the eighties of the last century until the American invasion of it at the beginning of this century.

In an investigation by journalist Jack Loach, the magazine stated that Baghdad will not be able to rebuild its infrastructure and agricultural sector as long as hundreds of thousands of homemade explosive devices are still scattered everywhere.

The investigation stated that the British non-profit “HALO Trust” group that works to clear mines and unexploded ordnance in Baiji, within the framework of the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service “UN Mine Action Service”, was able to To remove about 700 improvised explosive devices from one of the vast fields in the city of Baiji, Salah al-Din Governorate.

The magazine describes these remnants as a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of homemade explosives planted by the Islamic State organization when it was spreading terror throughout Iraq.

Belts of buried bombs extend from the Baiji oil refinery (Reuters)

In Baiji, the industrial city located on the road linking the capital, Baghdad, and the northern city of Mosul, the belts of buried bombs extend from the nearby oil refinery, the largest oil refinery in Iraq that was once under the control of ISIS fighters.

Omar Hossam - a team leader for the "Hallo Trust" organization, says that the Islamic State has planted improvised explosive devices 3 to 5 meters away from each other, and that there are many areas filled with this type of explosive.

The latest Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor data shows that landmines and explosive remnants of war are causing "large numbers of casualties," noting that more than 7,000 people were killed and injured worldwide in 2020, nearly 20 people killed or injured. every day.

Iraq is the most explosive country in the world (Reuters)

Explosive spread

According to the American magazine, these "indiscriminate" weapons, as well as unexploded ordnance and minefields left over from previous wars, made Iraq one of the most explosive countries in the world.

Like ash from a volcanic eruption, the recurring outbreak of conflict over the past decades has scattered explosives across vast swathes of Iraq.

In the south, these conflicts - starting with the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the Gulf War in 1991, and the US invasion in 2003 - have left behind minefields and unexploded cluster munitions.

What made matters worse - according to the press investigation - was the unprecedented and widespread use of improvised explosive devices by ISIS in northern Iraq, in addition to mortars and artillery fired by the organization and the pro-government factions.

The problem is not only that the use of explosives in residential areas can kill, injure, and displace residents, but in their unpredictable design and inaccurate use, which causes many of them to fail to explode.

The magazine warns that these remnants may threaten the lives of civilians for many years after the conflict ends, making the situation in a vicious circle.

Moreover, the continued presence of these explosives impedes economic growth and the return of the displaced to their homes, and impedes access to health and education services, and other basic services.

construction disability

Pollution caused by explosive ordnance in agricultural areas prevented farmers throughout Iraq from exploiting their lands or earning their livelihood, and similar pollution was discovered in infrastructure projects, which hindered reconstruction efforts and the spinning of the economy again.

According to a report by the United Nations Demining Service, 1,100 square miles have so far been included in explosive-laden land, and only a small amount has been cleared.

The exact size of this type of land is not known.

The total number of victims of these explosives in the world is not yet clear, but researchers estimate their numbers at more than 10 thousand dead, and about 24 thousand wounded during the past two decades.

Now, with the Islamic State largely defeated on the battlefield, some pockets of insurgency still exist in Iraq.

The Foreign Policy magazine indicates that what it calls the "fascination" of ISIS to fill its former areas of control with deadly explosives has cast a long shadow on the scene, and continues to inflict heavy losses on civilians.

The journalistic investigation recounted the tragedy of an Iraqi woman, Etab Jalawi, who lost her eyes when an explosive device exploded in the car she and her family were traveling in while they were fleeing in January 2015 from the city of Baiji after ISIS took control of it.

Lajloui, 33, was saved, but lost her sight, and two of her sons were killed in the accident.

"ISIS has destroyed my life and my future," she said.

The American magazine says that Baiji in Salah al-Din governorate embodies the "cruel tragedy" of urban warfare, which has become a pattern of violence increasingly common in modern conflicts that have affected more than 50 million people around the world.

It goes on to stress that political instability, bureaucracy, and sporadic outbreaks of violence complicate the situation, just as dealing with improvised explosive devices and homemade booby traps in urban areas presents technical challenges.