Iraq building moat, wall around Baghdad to keep out ISIL

Special to

Iraq has begun construction on fortifications in Baghdad that include a moat and a 10-foot high wall.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said the military’s Engineering Corps has started work on a 100 kilometer (65-mile) stretch of the wall and trench on the northern and northwestern approaches of the capital, according to an Associated Press report.

Officials hope a new security wall will eliminate the need for 50 percent of Baghdad's security checkpoints. /AP
Officials hope a new security wall will eliminate the need for 50 percent of Baghdad’s security checkpoints.  /AP

Baghdad has been hit by near-daily bombings in early 2016, most carried out by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

On Feb. 3, bombings in various parts of the city and a drive-by shooting killed eight people and wounded 28.

The UN reported that 490 civilians were killed and 1,157 were wounded in all of Iraq last month. That figure includes casualties for federal police, civil defense forces and personal security details.

In Baghdad, 299 civilians were killed and 785 wounded in January.

Maan said the security wall and trench will better deter terrorists than the massive number of blast walls that have been in place since 2003. The Iraqi prime minister’s office as well as western embassies and UN agencies are located in the capital’s “Green Zone,” a heavily protected and walled-off area on the west bank of the Tigris River.

Another reason for the new fortifications is to reduce the number of checkpoints inside Baghdad by at least 50 percent, Maan said. He said eliminating the checkpoints would free up thousands of troops and police and would ease traffic congestion.