Local media reported that Iraqi authorities have decided to partially open the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad beginning on Sunday, November 25, under the auspices of new Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi. Traffic would resume on at least one transit road passing through the IZ. A continued heightened security presence can be expected around embassies and at the checkpoints surrounding the IZ. The Iraqi authorities have not yet confirmed this information.
The IZ is an enclave in Baghdad that houses various governmental institutions and embassies, notably the US and UK embassies. Access to this area is currently restricted to most of the Iraqi population. Similar unsuccessful attempts to reopen the transit route through the IZ occurred in 2015.
While former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi claimed victory over the Islamic State (IS) in December 2017, the group retains a degree of freedom of movement in parts of the country, particularly in western and northern Iraq, and IS militants continue to carry out attacks on security forces and Shi'a communities, including in Baghdad. High-profile attacks often prompt equally significant security responses, including enhanced checkpoint operations, and more proactive operations, with resulting effects on transit.
Individuals in Baghdad are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel
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