Category - Iraq

Jordan Moves ‘Thousands’ of Troops to Iraq Border: Jordanian Sources

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

Obama assures Netanyahu on Iran nuke deal

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.”

Coalition strikes pound ISIS targets in Syria, Iraq

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.

Over 15,000 killed in Iraq in 2014: govt

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.

ISIS ‘executed’ nearly 2,000 in Syria since June: human rights monitoring group

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.

Iran extends visas for 450,000 Afghan refugees

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’ more UK troops to be sent to Iraq – Michael Fallon

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.

France: ‘Major’ anti-ISIS raid taking place in Iraq

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.

Hagel Stepping Down as Defense Chief Under Pressure

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.

Dempsey Weighs Frontline Role for U.S. Troops in Iraq

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.”

Four Blackwater guards found guilty in 2007 Iraq shootings of 31 unarmed civilians

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

U.N. report: ISIS uses women, girls as sex slaves

Al Arabiya, October 2

The United Nations on Thursday said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has committed mass killings, kidnapped women and girls and used them as sex slaves and employed children as fighters, in systematic violations that may amount to war crimes.

In a report based on nearly 500 interviews, the United Nations also blamed air strikes carried out by the Iraqi government for “significant civilian deaths,” by targeting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.

At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far in 20014, well over half of them since ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.

ISIS forces committed serious and gross human rights abuses “with an apparent systematic and widespread character,” said the report, produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN News Center: ‘Staggering array’ of gross human rights abuses in Iraq – UN report

UN HCR: UN report details “staggering array” of human rights abuses in northern Iraq
Report PDF: Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq: 6 July – 10 September 2014

France launches first air strikes on IS in Iraq

BBC, September 19

French jets have carried out their first strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, the office of President Francois Hollande says.

A statement said planes had attacked an IS depot in north-east Iraq, and there would be more raids in the coming days.

The US has carried out more than 170 air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq since mid-August.

IS remains in control of dozens of cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a caliphate.