Bombings targeting Shia pilgrims in Damascus killed around 40 Iraqis on Saturday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said. “Preliminary statistis indicate the fall of around 40 Iraqi martyrs and 120 wounded,” Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal said in a statement, terming it a “criminal terrorist operation.” He said that roadside bombs targeted buses carrying the pilgrims, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that there was one roadside and one suicide bombing in the Bab al-Saghir area of Damascus.
The Iraqi statement blamed the attack on “takfiri groups”, referring to Sunni Muslim extremist organisations that declare those who do not follow their ideology to be “kuffar”, or infidels. These include the Islamic State jihadist group, whih Iraq is battling at home, but which also holds significant ground in Syria. The attack could provide the impetus for increased Iraqi strikes against IS in Syria. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed that he would “not hesitate” to strike jihadists in neighborhood counties if they posed a threat.