The Iraqi Interior Ministry on Wednesday (August 14th) announced it has completed a major security plan geared towards protecting the public during Eid al-Fitr.
A total of "670,000 members of the army, police, military and national intelligence agencies and Iraqi national security directorate will participate in the new plan," said ministry spokesperson Maj. Gen. Adel Dahham.
"The government set up a higher joint security committee -- made up of the defence and interior ministries, the national intelligence service and the national security agency -- to carry out the plan, which will go into effect beginning next Saturday and last a whole week," he said.
The plan will be implemented in all Iraqi cities and will be characterised by a high level of flexibility -- it can be updated or amended at any time, he said.
According to Dahham, the plan includes placing security forces on a state of alert, suspending leave for the army and police, and conducting pre-emptive raids targeting al-Qaeda strongholds and hideouts to thwart any terrorist plot.
In addition to the 670,000 participating security personnel, there will be intelligence and engineering units ready to defuse any explosives that may be uncovered, he said.
Dahham said the plan includes securing parks, gardens, public places and streets in coordination with the General Directorate of Traffic, the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works, as well as provincial councils.
"The plan this year includes using 4,300 surveillance cameras, which were recently installed in touristic areas, parks and parking lots, as well as other aspects that will not be announced for security reasons," he said.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad al-Askari, spokesman for the defence ministry, said security forces made early preparations this year "to avert last year's mistakes and to identify weak points in this year's plans".
According to al-Askari, the army arrested nine individuals last week who confessed there was a plan to carry out strikes in parks and markets during the Eid.
Security forces also obtained important information that will help in foiling any attack al-Qaeda might launch, he said.
"We are counting on the security forces to abort the terrorists' sick schemes," Hassan al-Sunaid, chairman of parliament's defence and security committee, said.
"The task will not be easy because it is expected that millions of Iraqis will be going out on the first day of Eid, so the security forces need more effort and co-operation from the public," he added.