BAGHDAD – Iraq has honored a police officer who stopped a would-be suicide bomber at a checkpoint in a northern Baghdad neighborhood this week.
Saad Ali Thabit's brave act was caught on a closed-circuit camera on Wednesday in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood and has since gone viral, racking up hundreds of thousands of views on Thursday.
The footage shows Thabit discovering and then disarming the would-be bomber during a routine search at the checkpoint where he was working. It shows other people lined up at the checkpoint quickly running away as the bomber's explosive belt was discovered.
Thabit is seen pinning the attacker against the checkpoint's wall and disarming the explosives. Later Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi commended Thabit for his heroism and courage.
Baghdad has experienced a wave of deadly bombings this month that killed more than 200 within a single week. The attacks point to the resilience of the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks.
IS has increasingly resorted to bombings in civilian areas far from the front lines as it has lost territory to Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes. But the bombings also exposed lingering gaps in the Iraqi capital's defenses, which are manned by an array of security agencies and militias that don't always cooperate.
In addition to defending Baghdad from IS, Iraqi security forces have also had to contend with months of mass anti-government protests led by powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Twice during the weekly protests, the demonstrators breached Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone and ransacked government buildings inside.
Iraqi forces are currently waging an offensive to retake the IS-held city of Fallujah west of Baghdad. IS still controls some key areas in western and northern Iraq, including the country's second-largest city, Mosul.