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Be alert, pinoys in Iraq advised

THE Philippine Embassy in Baghdad reminded the more than 2,000 Filipinos in Iraq to remain vigilant after the Iraqi Government announced the start of a major offensive aimed at retaking the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

In its latest advisory, the Embassy urged “our kababayans in Baghdad and other places in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, to remain vigilant, stay indoors and avoid unnecessary movements. Please avoid public places and gatherings and call the Embassy if you need assistance: 773.569.9562 751.616.7838. 750.656.1740.”

The advisory was issued as an online post on the Embassy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and sent as an emergency alert using its Radyo Tambuli mobile app.

The Embassy issued the advisory in anticipation of a surge in diversionary attacks by the Islamic State in Baghdad and other cities.

It followed a series of suicide bombings in the Iraqi capital, including one on Sunday that took place just several blocks from the Embassy. That incident resulted in 20 dead and wounded and came a day after another suicide bomber killed around 40 people in Baghdad.
   
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the start of operations this morning to retake Mosul, which used to be Iraq’s second largest city located about 322 kilometers north of Baghdad. It was the takeover by the Islamic State of Mosul and other Iraqi cities in 2014 that prompted the Philippines to suspend the processing and deployment of Filipino workers and to repatriate those who are already there.
   
The Embassy estimates that there are 2,000 Filipinos who remain in Iraq, the majority in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region. Some 300 are estimated to be in Baghdad while the rest are in Basra and other southern provinces.