Category - Iraq

Key Iraqi City Falls to ISIS as Last of Security Forces Flee

New York Times, By Tim Arango, May 17

Baghdad — The last Iraqi security forces fled Ramadi on Sunday, as the city fell completely to the militants of the Islamic State, who ransacked the provincial military headquarters, seizing a large store of weapons, and killed people loyal to the government, according to security officials and tribal leaders.

The fall of Ramadi, despite intensified American airstrikes in recent weeks in a bid to save the city, represented the biggest victory so far this year for the Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast areas of Syria and Iraq that it controls. The defeat also laid bare the failed strategy of the Iraqi government, which had announced last month a new offensive to retake Anbar Province, a large desert region in the west of which Ramadi is the capital.

“The city has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for Anbar’s governor. Mr. Haimour said that at least 500 civilians and security personnel had been killed over the last two days in and around Ramadi, either from fighting or executions. Among the dead, he said, was the 3-year-old daughter of a soldier.

“Men, women, kids and fighters’ bodies are scattered on the ground,” said Sheikh Rafi al-Fahdawi, a tribal leader from Ramadi, who was in Baghdad on Sunday and whose men had been resisting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

He also said, “All security forces and tribal leaders have either retreated or been killed in battle. It is a big loss.”

U.S. rushing new weapons to Iraq as Islamic State advances in Ramadi

McClatchy, By Mitchell Prothero, May 15

Irbil – The Islamic State on Friday took control of the provincial government center of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province, and appeared to be in control of most of the city in a major defeat for the Iraqi government.

Islamic State forces also appeared to be closing in on government positions in two other key locations in Anbar province, the towns of Baghdadi and Karmah, in a broad offensive that if successful would end the government presence in all of the province’s major population centers. The capture of Baghdadi also would cut the supply lines to the Iraqi garrison protecting the strategic Haditha Dam.

U.S. officials offered conflicting views of the events, with the State Department and the Pentagon at first downplaying the significance of what had taken place. But a later statement from the White House made clear that the situation was urgent and that the United States was rushing shipments of heavy weapons, ammunition and supplies to Iraq to deal with the Islamic State advance.

The new weapons shipments will include an unspecified number of shoulder-fired rockets especially useful in blasting car bombs, which the Islamic State used particularly effectively in its Ramadi offensive.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/05/15/266798/islamic-state-takes-ramadi-government.html#storylink=cpy

Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More

The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion

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.
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‘Dirty Brigades': US-Trained Iraqi Forces Investigated for War Crimes

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

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.

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