ABU GHRAIB, Iraq, April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Saleh Mutlaq, chairman of Iraq's Al Arabiya Coalition and currently deputy prime minister of Iraq, survived an armed attack on his convoy at the entrance to the al Anbar governorate this morning. One of Dr. Saleh's bodyguards was seriously injured, as were two soldiers with the 9th Division of the Iraqi Army, which initiated fire against Mutlaq's convoy.
State-controlled Iraqi news stations are reporting that Mutlaq was attacked by armed insurgents and was rescued by the military. Eyewitnesses and members of Mutlaq's security detail challenge this characterization and assert that uniformed members of the 9th Division of the Iraqi Army opened fire on the deputy prime minister's convoy at 150 meters. Mutlaq's detail returned fire, advanced on the attackers, who retreated, and took two injured soldiers with them back to Baghdad where they are being treated at a military hospital.
Mutlaq's convoy was held at the Falcon's Gate, on the border of the Baghdad and Anbar governorates, for more than ten minutes while an Iraqi army checkpoint verified their travel clearance. The convoy was then cleared to advance and after five kilometers came under vehicle-mounted PKM machine gun fire from an Iraqi army position marked by U.S.-made Humvees.
Mutlaq has been a critic of the Iraqi government's policies in the Anbar governorate and has called for reform of the army, which many Iraqis currently believe is seriously unbalanced in favor of the Shi'a government of Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki. Iraq is scheduled to hold a parliamentary election on April 30th, which will be Iraq's first national-level election since U.S. forces withdrew from the country in 2011.
"If the state-influenced media is reporting that the attack on Dr. Saleh today was the work of insurgents, when all present clearly saw and returned fire with a brigade of the 9th Division, this incident calls into question every report the Iraqi government is making about what is happening in the Anbar governorate," said Sam Patten, Office of Sam Patten, a spokesperson for Mutlaq.
Mutlaq, who was traveling with a member of parliament, is safe and in a secure location presently. He will hold a press conference on the incident tomorrow.
SOURCE Office of Sam Patten