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Mines expert: 3bn square metres littered with mines in Iraq

A Turkish deminer searches for landmines in the Salah al-Din area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 15, 2020. - Human Rights Watch earlier this month accused pro-Haftar forces of laying Russian and Soviet-era landmines as they withdrew from Tripoli's southern districts. A team of Turkish deminers arrived in Tripoli last week to bring their expertise, under a broader military cooperation agreement signed late last year between Tripoli and Ankara. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images)
A Turkish deminer searches for landmines in the Salah al-Din area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 15, 2020 [MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images]

A United Nations mines expert said nearly 3 billion square metres in Iraq are contaminated with mines and remnants of war.

The head of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq, Pehr Lodhammar told the local Al-Sabah newspaper that according to figures provided by the Iraqi government, the area contaminated with mines and remnants of the two wars in Iraq amounts to 2.9 billion square metres, of which 257.37 million square metres is in the northern Kurdistan region.

According to the UN official, the number of war remnants and other forms of explosive materials, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), increased after Daesh took control of several Iraqi provinces.

UN: ‘Haftar’s mines killed 138 people in two months’

He explained that UNMAS has funded mines surveys in the governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Anbar, Saladin and Diyala, and reported the areas suspected of contamination with mines as well as areas with confirmed contamination.

Al-Sabah newspaper reported that Basra Governorate is considered the most polluted province in Iraq due to the presence of minefields from previous wars including the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The paper quoted Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor as confirming that Iraq is one of the most polluted countries in the world in terms of mines, cluster munitions and war remnants.

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International OrganisationsIraqMiddle EastNewsUN
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