On March 9, Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the defense and security committee in the Iraqi parliament, warned during a press conference that ISIS cells are planning to storm the strategic city of Samarra, 100km northwest of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in order to destroy several Shiite shrines inside the city, according to the Russian RT TV.
Al-Zamili revealed that ISIS fighters are currently massing in the al-Fatha area south of the city of Samarra. The politician also stressed that the Iraqi government should deploy more security forces units around the city to secure it from ISIS.
Security forces and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) repelled a large ISIS attack on Samarra on March 8, according to al-Zamili. Iraqi forces lost three their fighters and killed nine ISIS members.
Moreover, eight ISIS fighters were reportedly arrested by the Iraqi Army in the al-Farhatah area south of Samarra on the same day. These two incidents confirm that the ISIS influence south of the strategic city is growing.
Similar warnings were ignored by the government before the fall of Mosul city in 2014. However, this time the Iraqi government will likely take these warning seriously and send more reinforcement to avoid repeating the Mosul scenario in Samarra.