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Top Iran general in Baghdad after 'deliberate' ballot warehouse fire Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Top Iran general in Baghdad after 'deliberate' ballot warehouse fire

The election that saw a surprise victory for populist Sadr [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2018

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The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards has reportedly arrived in the Iraqi capital after a "deliberate" fire ravaged a warehouse storing votes from May's legislative election.

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards has reportedly arrived in the Iraqi capital after a "deliberate" fire ravaged a warehouse storing votes from May's legislative election.

Qassem Soleimani landed in Baghdad late on Sunday to meet with Shia political leaders and discuss the ramifications of the blaze, a senior Iraqi official told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

"Soleimani has come to end tensions between Shia political blocs and Hashed al-Shaabi militias," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"The crisis has taken a new turn as there are accusations of a Shia group being involved in the fire, especially because most of the burnt ballot boxes were from area won by Moqtada al-Sadr,"

"Sadr was likely the target of the incident and his supporters are promoting this theory," he said.

The source added that Soleimani with Hadi al-Amiri, leader of a pro-Iran bloc, and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki close to Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone.

The top Iranian general reportedly travelled to Iraq last month to push for the formation of a new "friendly government".

Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji said on Monday the fire at the warehouse was started "deliberately".

The fire ripped through the warehouse on Sunday ahead of a vote recount prompted by allegations of fraud during the election that saw a surprise victory for populist Sadr, who is opposed to Iranian interference in Iraq.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control several hours after it broke out in a warehouse located in al-Russafa, one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad.

The fire erupted as the Supreme Council of Justice on Sunday appointed nine judges to supervise a manual vote recount which had been ordered by Iraq's outgoing parliament.

Sadr has warned late on Sunday that Iraq could face a new civil war breaking out in the country.

"It is time to stand up for reconstruction rather than the burning of ballot boxes or a new election for the sake of one or two seats," Sadr said in a statement.

"This is the will of the people ... but not those who want to start a civil war," Sadr said.

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