ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate on Monday affirmed that 6,103 acres of agricultural crops had burned down across the country over the past 18 days in 136 separate incidents.
The numbers provided by the Directorate list incidents in 11 provinces, from May 8 to May 26. The affected provinces were Baghdad, Maysan, Babylon (Babil), Wasit, Muthanna, Kirkuk, Diyala, Nineveh, Salahuddin, Anbar, and Dhi Qar.
“The total burned area accounts for 6,103 acres of land, and the total at-risk area goes up to 118,406 acres,” the statement read.
The provinces that suffered most are Salahuddin (3,517 acres), Nineveh (1,311), Kirkuk (546), and Diyala (276).
The Directorate did not mention what started the fires ahead of the hot summer months, but over the past few days, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for blazes targeting people’s wheat crops for refusing to pay taxes to the jihadist group.
The most affected provinces are also those with disputed territories, claimed by both the federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), where the Islamic State has taken advantage of the security vacuum and instability left by rifts between Iraqi forces, Shia militias, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
Although Iraq announced the military defeat of the Islamic State in December 2017, the terrorist group continues to carry out insurgency-style attacks in formerly liberated areas, like Mosul, as well as even places it never controlled, like the nation’s capital of Baghdad.
Editing by Nadia Riva