Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has ordered security forces to step up security measures as Iraqis started observing Ramadan.
During a meeting on Sunday with Interior Ministry officials, Mr Al Kadhimi said “security leadership needs to adopt new and special measures that fit the social activities and needs during Ramadan”.
Mr Al Kadhimi ordered the Civil Defence Corps to crowded areas and hotlines to be available for emergencies citing “security challenges”.
People in Iraq do not usually leave their houses during the day to avoid soaring temperatures that already started to exceed 30°C.
After breaking their fast at sunset, people flock to mosques, shrines, commercial areas, parks and cafes until dawn when they have their meal known as suhoor.
Iraq’s Sunni minority started observing Ramadan on Saturday, while the majority Shiites started the on Sunday due to the differing moon-sighting techniques that each sect follows.
Many Shiites prefer to see the crescent with their naked eye, while Sunnis often use telescopes or follow Saudi Arabia’s lead.
After the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and unleashed bloody insurgency, Ramadan has been a catalyst for extremists from Al Qaeda in Iraq and then ISIS to launch attacks mainly against Shiites.
One of the deadliest attacks was in 2016 when a suicide truck bombing ripped through the commercial district of Karrada, killing at least 300 people and wounded hundreds.
They were preparing for the three-day Eid Al Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.
ISIS claimed responsibility for that bombing and last year the Iraqi government detained the mastermind behind the attack.
With the sustained counterterrorism pressures, no major attacks by ISIS have taken place except few against security forces and civilians in remote areas.