Skip to main content

34 killed in militants' raid on reputed brothel in Baghdad

By Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN
updated 6:00 PM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
  • NEW: U.S. worried about sectarianism in Iraqi forces, sources tell CNN
  • Report: Militants left a message, "This is the fate of any prostitution"
  • Residents say Shiite group carried out attack, but it denies having forces in Baghdad
  • Car bombings kill two in Baghdad; roadside bomb targets a Kurdish police convoy

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- An attack on apartments that neighbors say were used as a brothel in Baghdad has killed at least 28 women and six men, security officials told CNN.

Unidentified militants wearing military uniforms and street clothes stormed apartments Saturday in the Zayona residential complexes in eastern Baghdad, officials said. They fired their weapons in the streets before breaking down doors to enter the buildings, security officials and residents told CNN. Once inside, they killed the men and women, officials said.

Attackers left a message on a door: "This is the fate of any prostitution," an Agence France-Presse correspondent on the scene reported.

Residents told CNN the Shiite Asa'b Ahl al-Haq organization carried out the attack. But the organization told CNN it does not have forces inside the city.

There was no letup in violence Monday, with two car bombs in Baghdad and a roadside bomb in Iraqi's semiautonomous Kurdish region. There were also ongoing clashes in Salaheddin province, 70 kilometers (about 44 miles) north of the capital.

Two people were killed and 14 others wounded in the separate car bombings in the al-Bayaa and al-Alawi areas of Baghdad, police officials said.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb targeted a Kurdish police convoy patrolling a road between Sulaimaniya and Diyala provinces, killing one police officer, Kurdish Peshmerga officials told CNN. The area is controlled by the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters.

In Salaheddin province, fighting between militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and Iraqi forces backed by Sunni al-Jubouri tribesmen broke out late Saturday in Dhuluiya, police officials and a tribal representative told CNN. ISIS controls 50% of the town, including the mayor's office, municipal council and the police building, they said.

Six security force members and tribal fighters have been killed in the fighting.

ISIS, an al Qaeda splinter group, has led Sunni insurgents who have taken over large areas of northern and western Iraq in an offensive that began last month. The terrorist group has also made major gains in Syria in its quest to establish an Islamic state spanning both countries.

"ISIS terrorist groups started shelling the town with mortars from the northern side of the town," the al-Jubouri spokesman said, before pickup trucks loaded with armed militants moved in to occupy government buildings.

A YouTube video purportedly from ISIS shows militants raising a flag over the buildings.

"We are steadfast and will cleanse the town from them in 48 hours," the al-Jubouri spokesman said.

Inside Baghdad hospital, harrowing tales from the front line

U.S. report on Iraqi readiness

The initial U.S. military assessment of Iraqi security forces ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama was given Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Pentagon officials will review the report -- which assesses the capabilities, training, morale, leadership, and command and control of Iraq's forces -- before giving the President recommendations for the next steps in supporting Iraq's forces.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the United States has "not moved to an advisory capacity at this point."

Two U.S. officials tell CNN a major concern that has been raised is the overwhelming sectarianism in Iraqi forces. In particular, U.S. commanders are concerned if they move into a direct advisory role of Iraqi government forces, it will be perceived as taking sides with the Iranian-backed Shiite elements inside Iraqi units.

U.S. military personnel are also looking at why so many Iraqi units collapsed in the face of the initial ISIS advances and whether it is possible to even reconstitute those units to the point that U.S. advisers would be useful.

The officials also said that if Baghdad was attacked, Iraqi forces would need help from Iranian-backed militia.

Another concern is infiltration of Iraqi units by militants and potential green-on-blue attacks -- that is, attacks on U.S. personnel by members of the Iraqi forces.

Kirby would not say what was in the report but noted, "This is a lesson that certainly we learned in recent years from Afghanistan. We always keep in mind and have to keep in mind the insider threat, and we have to factor that in when we are doing work in a partnership capacity n a situation such as this, where it's as dangerous as it is."

President Obama has authorized 300 military advisers in Iraq, 210 of which are there now.

ISIS success in Syria

ISIS also has been making gains in Syria. In the eastern Syria city of Deir Ezzor, militants took control of areas that had been held by other rebel groups, such has al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, the UK-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The other rebels either left the city or pledged allegiance to ISIS, the observatory said. That means the city is controlled partly by the government and partly by ISIS. Deir Ezzor is 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the Iraqi border.

ISIS now controls about 95% of greater Deir Ezzor province, which borders Iraq, the observatory said.

In other violence over the weekend in Iraq, militants believed to be with ISIS attacked the city of Haditha from four directions, said Hameed Ahmed al-Hashim, a member of the Anbar provisional council, and two security officials in Haditha.

A large military force backed by tribesmen defended the city, they said.

Iraqi jet fighters bombed a bridge controlled by militants east of Falluja, causing structural damage, al-Hashim said.

Three police officers were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy in Kirkuk, a security official told CNN on Saturday.

CNN's Barbara Starr, Elwyn Lopez and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Get all the latest news and updates on Iraq in Arabic by visiting CNN Arabic.
ISIS has spread from Syria into Iraq. Learn where the militant strongholds are.
updated 7:46 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Staring up at the stained hospital ceiling, Hassan recounts the fierce firefight on the streets of Ramadi that landed him here.
updated 9:56 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
'Why do these people kill other people?" For Iraq's youngest residents, the tragedy in the country is almost incompreensible.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
updated 2:04 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
In a palm orchard in Baghdad, women learn how to protect their children and homes, afraid if ISIS penetrates the Iraqi capital.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Joe Biden once argued it was time to split Iraq into three parts: Kurdish, Shia and Sunni. And why not?
updated 4:17 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
CNN's Hala Gorani speaks to terrorism expert Peter Neumann about video that purports to show ISIS' leader in Iraq.
updated 6:58 PM EDT, Sun July 6, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon gets exclusive access to the front lines of the Iraqi Army's defense against advancing ISIS militants.
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
A Colorado woman was arrested at the Denver airport and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir rides with police special forces as they attempt to secure Baghdad from enemies within the city.
updated 11:13 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
Faisal Al Yafai: The caliphate is not the answer to Iraq's wars -- but neither is division. For better or worse, the Mideast is stuck with its current borders.
updated 6:17 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Saudi dissident and suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is seen in this undated file photo taken somewhere in Afghanistan.
The creation of a caliphate was Osama bin Laden's dream. ISIS is attempting to make it a reality.
updated 5:21 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Under a sweltering sun, Fallah al Araiby hunched over the hood of a car, scrubbing away the dirt.
updated 12:00 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
The extremist group that's taken over a large swath of western and northern Iraq announced on Sunday the establishment of a "caliphate."
updated 12:58 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Nic Robertson journeys to the front lines, where old Iraqi tanks are being used to keep ISIS out of Baghdad.
updated 9:19 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on how Iraqis are living under ISIS control in Mosul.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 10:29 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
T-shirts, hoodies and even toy figurines bearing the ISIS logo are being sold on online and marketed across social media.
updated 9:39 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon shares one mixed Sunni-Shiite family's story out of Iraq amid increased worry ISIS is taking over.