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Iraq Military Closes Roads Near Baghdad Green Zone, Triggering Traffic Gridlock

Traffic gridlock gripped the Iraqi capital Tuesday as government forces closed off more than half of central Baghdad's streets.

According to a count by NBC News, some 75 percent of the streets around the fortified Green Zone — which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions — were closed during the morning.

Telecommunications worker Esraa Raheem said she had left her home in eastern Baghdad for work in the west of the city at 8 a.m. (1 a.m. ET) but didn't get far.

Image: Traffic was at a standstill in Baghdad
Traffic was at a standstill in parts of Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday morning, according to telecommunications worker Esraa Raheem, 28. She took this picture of the gridlock while trying to commute to work. Esraa Raheem

"Hundreds of cars were stuck in a traffic jam and we were not able to reach work. Some people started to walk, but I saw some soldiers did not let people on foot to walk," the 28-year-old told NBC News. "On the other side I saw tanks being transported on truck. They were taking the direction that leads to the International Zone."

After two hours, Raheem gave up and went back home.

A military spokesman said that officials had closed roads in order to prepare for a military parade to celebrate recent Iraqi victories against ISIS in Fallujah and the Qayara airbase, which is south of the militants' stronghold of Mosul.

Iraqi forces recaptured the strategically-located base on Saturday from ISIS. While in Baghdad on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said 560 more American troops would be deployed to Iraq, using the reclaimed airbase as a hub.

Image: Iraqi pro-government forces take part in a rehearsal for a military parade in the streets of Baghdad
Iraqi pro-government forces take part in a rehearsal for a military parade in the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday. Road closures and streets clogged with military vehicles caused intense gridlock in the Iraqi capital. SABAH ARAR / AFP - Getty Images

"We are preparing for a military parade that is going to take place in Baghdad in the coming days," Brig. Gen. Saad Maan told NBC News without specifying when exactly the event would be held. The streets had started to reopen by around 4 a.m. ET, he added.

The country is due to mark the anniversary of its 1958 overthrow of a Hashemite monarchy and the declaration of Iraq as a republic on Thursday.

Waleed Khald, who owns a carpet shop in center of Baghdad, gave up trying to get to work after three hours.

Carter: 560 Extra U.S. Troops Going to Iraq 0:54

"I am at home now and will go back to bed. I do not want to trouble myself with what's going on. We will find out sooner or later," he said.

The mysterious road closures come amid continued violence in the Iraqi capital, with two large-scale attacks claimed by ISIS last week leaving close to 300 dead.

Related: Iraqi PM Fires Security Officials After Bomb Kills 300

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomb killed 11 in a Shiite neighborhood in the northeastern part of Baghdad.