Vice News, By Jason Leopold, March 19
Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific information” on “many key aspects” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
But that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.
ABC News, By James Gordon Meek, Brian Ross, Rym Momtaz & Alex Hoswnball, March 11
U.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group, American and Iraqi officials told ABC News. Some Iraqi units have already been cut off from U.S. assistance over “credible” human rights violations, according to a senior military official on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
The investigation, being conducted by the Iraqi government, was launched after officials were confronted with numerous allegations of “war crimes,” based in part on dozens of ghastly videos and still photos that appear to show uniformed soldiers from some of Iraq’s most elite units and militia members massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners, and displaying severed heads.
The videos and photos are part of a trove of disturbing images that ABC News discovered has been circulating within the dark corners of Iraqi social media since last summer. In some U.S. military and Iraqi circles, the Iraqi units and militias under scrutiny are referred to as the “dirty brigades.”
“As the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] and militias reclaim territory, their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL [ISIS] fighters,” said a statement to ABC News from the U.S. government. “If these allegations are confirmed, those found responsible must be held accountable.”
Graphic auto-start video at the link
Via Peter Maas at The Intercept: Atrocities Committed by U.S.-Trained Iraqi Forces — Again
NBC News, By Moufaq Khatib, February 10
Amman — Jordan has deployed “thousands” of troops at its border with Iraq as it ramps up a campaign against ISIS militants who set a pilot ablaze, two Jordanian government officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
The troops were sent to prevent the infiltration of ISIS fighters into Jordan and as a show of force, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Al Arabiya: UAE jets based in Jordan launch strikes on ISIS
Reuters, By Doina Chiacu, January 22
Washington – U.S.-led forces attacked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets with 21 air strikes in Iraq and 10 in Syria since Wednesday, the American military said.
AFP, January 13
Washington DC – U.S. President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that America was committed to a “comprehensive” nuclear deal with Iran, and said that Palestinian ICC membership was not “constructive,” officials said.
“The United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” the White House said in a statement.
“The president underscored the United States’ enduring commitment to the security of Israel and the importance of continuing close cooperation with Israel on this issue.”
Al Arabiya, January 13
U.S.-led coalition military forces launched a total of 27 air strikes on territories controlled by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group (ISIS), an operation report said Monday.
Coalition forces conducted 11 air strikes on ISIS-held positions in Syria over the past 24 hours, including Kobane and Deir Ezzour.
The latest attacks on Kobane struck two large ISIS units, an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed 10 militant fighting positions, the report said. The strikes also knocked down five ISIS buildings and two staging positions used by the militant group.
While in Deir Ezzour, the coalition struck an ISIS oil refinery.
Fighters, bombers and remotely controlled aircraft conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq, including Beiji, Ramadi, Tal Afar and Mount Sinjar.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
While nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Al Arabiya News, January 1
At least 15,000 people have been killed in Iraq in 2014, government figures showed on Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.
Figures compiled by the health, interior and defense ministries put the death toll at 15,538, compared with 17,956 killed in 2007, during the height of Sunni-Shiite sectarian killings.
The toll was also more than double the 6,522 people killed in 2013.
The year got off to a bloody start, with the government losing control of parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi and all of Fallujah — just a short drive from Baghdad — to anti-government fighters.
AFP, December 29
Beirut – The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group have murdered nearly 2,000 people in Syria – half of them from an important Sunni tribe – since announcing their “caliphate” in June, a monitoring group said Sunday.
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the execution by ISIS of 1,878 people in Syria between June 28 when it announced its ‘caliphate’ and December 27,” the group said in a statement.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activist and medical sources on the ground in Syria, is based in Britain.
Reuters, By Jessica Donati, December 13
Kabul – Iran said it had agreed to extend temporary visas for 450,000 Afghan refugees for six months, lifting a threat to send them back home to a country facing attacks by resurgent militants.
Afghanistan — struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of people left homeless inside its own borders by a wave of violence — this month asked its neighbor not to expel the Afghan refugees who did not have the right documents.
Kabul said 760,000 refugees were at risk and it was not immediately clear what would happen to those who did not receive extensions.
Hundreds of British troops will be sent to Iraq in the New Year, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
BBC, December 13
The deployment – to help train local forces – will be in the “very low hundreds” but could also include a small protection force of combat-ready soldiers, he said.
About 50 UK troops are already training Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence said the move had not yet been formally approved.
An MoD spokesman said: “No decisions on troop numbers, units or locations have yet been made”.
However, speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Fallon said the fresh troop deployment would be made in January and would be to four training centres that US forces are establishing.
AFP, December 5
France said Friday its fighter jets were conducting a “major” raid in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition offensive against the Islamic State group, days after members said the strikes were having effect.
“At the moment, a major raid is taking place,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV, refusing to detail the targets or the number of jets involved.
He said French planes based in the United Arab Emirates and more recently in Jordan had carried out “120 to 130 missions” since the start of the coalition offensive.
These include intelligence gathering missions. Compared to the United States, France has carried out only a handful of strikes on the militants.
New York Times, By Helene Cooper, November 24
Washington – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises…
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.
Related, Andrew Bacevich on the Middle East: Five Bedrock Washington Assumptions That Perpetuate Our Middle East Policy Train Wreck.
Bloomberg, By Sangwon Yoon, November 13
President Barack Obama’s top military adviser said more U.S. troops may be needed in Iraq for a “long and difficult” fight against Islamic State, as military planners assess the shortcomings of Iraqi forces.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers yesterday that more complex operations in Iraq, such as efforts to retake Mosul or secure the Syrian border, may require deploying a limited number of additional American military advisers in action with Iraqi soldiers.
“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.
His testimony reflects a debate between some military and intelligence officers and civilians and White House officials following Obama’s pledge to end the U.S. war in Iraq. Analysts such as Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, say it’s “far from clear” whether Obama’s current cap of 3,100 U.S. troops in Iraq will “come close to meeting the need.”
Washington Post, By Spencer S. Hsu, Victoria St. Martin & Keith L. Alexander, October 22
A federal jury in Washington convicted four Blackwater Worldwide guards Wednesday in the fatal shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqis, seven years after the American security contractors fired machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle in one of the most ignominious chapters of the Iraq war.
The guilty verdicts on murder, manslaughter and gun charges marked a sweeping victory for prosecutors, who argued in an 11-week trial that the defendants fired recklessly and out of control in a botched security operation after one of them falsely claimed to believe the driver of an approaching vehicle was a car bomber. Jurors rejected the guards’ claims that they were acting in self-defense and were the target of incoming AK-47 gunfire.
Overall, defendants were charged with the deaths of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others at Baghdad’s Nisour Square shortly after noon Sept. 16, 2007. None of the victims was an insurgent.
“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District, whose office prosecuted the case. “I pray that this verdict will bring some sense of comfort to the survivors of that massacre.”
Defense attorneys appeared stunned and said they would appeal. David Schertler, an attorney for defendant Dustin Heard, called the result “incomprehensible.”
The Guardian: US jury convicts Blackwater guards in 2007 killing of Iraqi civilians