On the 11 Feb 2017, a large gathering took place in Tahir Square. It had originally been billed as a ‘spontaneous demonstration’ as the Shia cleric Sadr had called for a million-man demonstration and attempted to march towards the International Zone (IZ). The ISF closed the nearby roads and bridges, and eventually engaged the demonstrators with teargas and small arms fire. A number of deaths were reported. As the casualties increased, Sadr allegedly rescinded his instructions to enter the IZ, and the situation calmed down by the end of the day.
In the evening, at approximately 20:15, there was a rocket attack, possibly launched from IVO Sadr City. The rockets struck the IZ. No group has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.
Analysis: 2 issues attract comment. The first is that the IZ was barred to the demonstrators, unlike the first event in 2016 where they were able to walk in past security personnel. The second is the rocket attack. Was it coordinated as part of the protest, or was it another grouping, with possible international backing, taking advantage of the situation?
Top Tip 1: 107mm or 122mm rockets are notoriously unreliable. Sometimes up to 30% fail to detonate. It is always wise after an attack to check your area for possible unexploded rockets that may not be seen in darkness.
Top Tip 2: Once a bombardment starts, immediately hit the ground. Do not try to run for cover unless it is beside you. The shrapnel will always fly upwards, so running upright will make you more of a target. Be aware of the secondary shrapnel effect caused by surfaces such as gravel.