A few steps from Baghdad’s cultural heart and its famous book market on al-Mutanabi Street lies the Iraqi capital’s latest tourist attraction: a war museum glorifying the sacrifices of thousands of mainly Shiite militiamen who died fighting the Islamic State group.
The museum is meant to honour the fallen but it also underscores the Iran-backed militias’ growing clout in the country. Their political and military might soared after they helped the government defeat IS – so much so that they are now accused by some of seeking to build a parallel state within Iraq.
Housed inside Baghdad’s historic, Ottoman-era al-Qishla building, the museum displays rocket launchers, drones and cannons from the four-year fight with IS. Visitors can browse through the war booty and other memorabilia from the front lines, as well as personal belongings fighters left behind on battlefields across the country.