In Iraq, the Bitter Legacy of War Still Lies Hidden Underground


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(Foreign Policy)

BAIJI, Iraq—Like the neck of a giraffe, a minesweeping vehicle extends a serrated bucket forward and dips its teeth into the blighted earth. It drags the dry soil backward, sifting, before harvesting a jerrycan and gently placing it on the edge of a field.

This is no harmless piece of trash; the container holds 20 liters (or around 5 gallons) of explosives—enough firepower to kill multiple people and wreck an armored vehicle. Nor is it a rarity. All around, a vast field is filled with dozens of fluttering ribbons attached to small yellow posts, each one placed where another bomb once lay.

In total, a staggering 700 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been pulled out of this arid field by the Halo Trust, a humanitarian organization that clears land mines and other explosive debris. Those weapons are just a fraction of the tens if not hundreds of thousands of IEDs laid across Iraq by the Islamic State during its reign of terror.

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Published: Monday, February 14, 2022

Last Updated: Monday, February 14, 2022

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