News / Middle East

Iraq Conflict has Displaced 1 Million, UN Says

  • Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Ramadi, Iraq, June 19, 2014.
  • Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Ramadi, Iraq, June 19, 2014.
  • A general view shows damaged houses after fighting in the city of Ramadi, Iraq, June 19, 2014.
  • A member from the oil police force stands guard at Zubair oilfield in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, June 18, 2014.
  • This June 17, 2014 image taken from video uploaded to a militant social media account shows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants arriving at the oil refinery in Beiji, Iraq.
  • This June 17, 2014 image taken from video uploaded to a militant social media account shows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants arriving at the oil refinery in Beiji, Iraq.
  • This June 17, 2014 image taken from video uploaded to a militant social media account shows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants arriving at the oil refinery in Beiji, Iraq.
  • Iraqi Shi'ite Turkmen families fleeing the violence in Tal Afar arrive in Shangal, a town in Nineveh province, Iraq, June 17, 2014.
  • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during training in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
  • Residents gather at governorate building of Nineveh province after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control in the city of Mosul, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
  • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
  • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant moving captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base near Tikrit, Iraq.
Images from Iraq
VOA News
The ongoing conflict in Iraq has displaced more than one million people so far this year, the United Nations reports, connecting the massive disruptions to domestic divisions and a spillover of violence from Syria.
 
Iraq’s internal sectarian divisions and several years of war in neighboring Syria have fueled the region’s instability, the U.N. Refugee Agency said in a report released Friday.
 
Much of the displacement has occurred in western Anbar province. This month’s breathtakingly swift, bloody advance of fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic, who’ve seized control of several key Iraqi cities, has upended more lives, with at least 500,000 fleeing the city of Mosul alone.
 
Syria tied to Iraqi upheaval
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a speech Friday to the Asia Society, linked the displacement in Iraq to a spillover of violence from Syria.
 
"Divisions within Syria, the region and international community, even within the United Nations, and continued arms flows continue to fuel the conflict," Ban said. "These bleak prospects have darkened further with a flare of violence and sectarian tensions in Iraq. Suddenly the cohesion and integrity of two major countries, not just one, is in question."
 
"The time is long past for the international community, in particular the Security Council, to uphold its responsibilities," he said in urging the U.N. council to impose an arms embargo on Syria.
 
Ban also discouraged airstrikes against ISIL, the al-Qaida splinter group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
 
Military strikes, he cautioned, "might have little lasting effect or even be counter-productive if there is no movement toward inclusive government in Iraq."

Battle over refinery continues

Iraqi troops continued battling Islamic militants over control of a major oil refinery Friday, amid news that the insurgents have seized a chemical weapons facility once owned by the late Saddam Hussein.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Since Tuesday, there has been intense fighting for control of the sprawling Beiji refinery, located about 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad. As of Friday, each side held a portion of the facility.
 
Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have wrested control of the chemical weapons facility, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.
 
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. "remains concerned about the seizure of any site by the ISIL," but said the complex likely does not contain chemical weapons of military value. She stressed it would be "very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials."

Cleric's call to arms clarified

Meanwhile, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric urged all Iraqis to unite against the ISIL-led Sunni jihadists overtaking swaths of the country, including most of one province and parts of three others.
 
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said if the insurgents are not “fought and expelled from Iraq, everyone will regret it tomorrow, when regret has no meaning," his spokesman said Friday in the shrine city of Karbala, according to the French news agency AFP.
 
In televised remarks, spokesman Abdul Mehdi al-Karbalai said the ayatollah’s call last week for Iraqis to join the armed forces was meant to transcend sectarian and ethnic divisions and “was for all citizens, without specifying a religion.”  
 
"The goal was to get ready to face the takfiri group called ISIL, which now has the upper hand... in what is happening in many provinces," al-Karbalai said, using an Arabic word roughly translated as extremist, AFP reported.
 
The ayatollah’s call for volunteers bolstered the ranks of the struggling Iraqi army as it battles the Sunni militants -- including some fighters loyal to Hussein.

Sistani calls for new, 'effective' government

In a hit to the country's Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, Sistani called on Friday for a new, "effective" government that avoids "past mistakes" amid a widening offensive by Sunni militants.

The remarks come after U.S. President Barack Obama called on Maliki to create an agenda "inclusive" of Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities or risk civil war.

U.S. officials would not comment directly Friday on Sistani's statement. But White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said a successful Iraqi government would be one that governs in an "inclusive fashion." State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said one of the administration's primary messages to Iraqi leaders is that "now is a time to be unified" against the shared threat they face.

US to send 300 advisers
 
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the situation in Iraq, June 19, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the situation in Iraq, June 19, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.
x
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the situation in Iraq, June 19, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the situation in Iraq, June 19, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.

Obama said Thursday he is prepared to send more equipment and up to 300 U.S. advisers to help Iraq fight against the militants that have already taken over much of the country's northern region.
 
Speaking from the White House, Obama ruled out sending U.S. ground forces back into Iraq after withdrawing combat troops in 2011 following eight years of fighting. But he said is ready to take what he calls "targeted" military action as necessary, leaving the door open for possible airstrikes against Sunni militants.

Story continues below
Obama Faces Dilemma on Iraq Interventioni
X
Steve Baragona
June 20, 2014 11:20 PM
In 2011, the United States pulled its forces out of Iraq with the intent to never return, but the advances made by militant insurgents in that country are forcing the U.S. administration to re-visit that policy. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

 
Kerry heads to Middle East


Obama is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East and Europe this weekend for talks with U.S. allies.
 
Kerry called ISIL a threat to everyone in the region, saying there's no single military answer to the Iraqi crisis. He said forming a new unity government as rapidly as possible will be the greatest single step toward quelling the violence and finding a solution.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: S.N OKOYE from: NIGERIA
June 21, 2014 2:50 PM
No matter the mistake the Iraq President Nouri Malik had made by not being inclusive of the Sunni's and co in his government, the militants need to be stopped because their ultimate aim seems not short of sacking the government in Bagdad.When this happens, there is likely to be no end to cycle of violence in Iraq. The mistake can be corrected afterwards.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 21, 2014 4:27 AM
It does take firm patience and reverence in order to read so many lopsided views. But I do understand the frustration. Since the powers to be still have no more control over the countless years of human suffering, we should focus on ALL OF THEM ON BOTH SIDES. You can place blame, point fingers, and smear hateful rhetoric (the same way Democrats and Republicans operate!) against the USA or EU or UN or ISLAM, but it doesn't help us, or the powerless, or the hurting, or the suffering. Can any of you USA haters say with true conviction that if we, the USA, completely stay out of ISLAMIC affairs, then they will be peaceful? Towards each other? Towards their non-ISLAMIC neighbors? If you think these ISLAMIC 'peacelovers' will stop the violence, rape, murder, destruction of each other and their non-ISLAMIC neighbors, then you are totally and historically clueless and really need to stay in your shell, hopefully your shell is radiation-proof. There are keys ingredients in this story's recipe. Did anyone notice the statement that the insurgents have overtaken a chemical weapons facility that was once owned by Saddam? Did all of your objective intellects allow you to decipher this statement, or is bashing and blaming so much simpler? In a world of instant history, means we can forget it just as instantly. With that being said, I guess Colin Powell did lie to congress that Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction! What? He didn't lie? Or the 25 kilos of enriched uranium (nuclear bomb grade) found in Saddam's arsenal was just a coincidence and nothing we needed to worry about? Long-range SCUD missiles, blah blah blah. Is that enough to go to war? Doubtful, but still all the Bush-bashing media made sure we looked like fools. The Republicans are idiots! Oooops, I was watching CNN. The Democrats are anti-American retards! Oooops, accidentally changed it to Fox News. My bad. Don't give up on your simple minds just yet. There is still another question at hand here. If Saddam had a chemical weapons facility, and we conquered Iraq, the Iraqis killed Saddam, so why are the current insurgents capturing this facility? In other words, why wasn't this facility destroyed!!!!! We were there for 7, 8 years! But we didn't make sure this facility was totally destroyed? Hopefully some of your simple minds can offer a little more insight on this issue, or shall we continue bashing each other?

by: Anonymous
June 20, 2014 6:59 PM
f****** US destroys completely two river's civilization

by: michelle from: USA
June 20, 2014 6:15 PM
Too many things happening too fast. Conservatives are confused without Fox News talking points. And no one is paying attention to their witch hunt hearings.

by: marck from: earth
June 20, 2014 2:30 PM
May the God of Abraham Bless the Whole World !!!

by: LouAZ from: Aridzona
June 20, 2014 2:21 PM
These are the same tribes who have had over 2000 years to sort out their religious differences. Why would anyone expect them to solve them now ?

by: Thos Hartmann from: Washington
June 20, 2014 2:15 PM
Mission Accomplished

by: toledo from: ohio
June 20, 2014 2:14 PM
Why are we there in Iraq? Because they scared us enough to do something. Now we lost many and our government used the situation to spy on us legally.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
June 20, 2014 1:22 PM
USA & EU Must take action against sponsors of ISIL. Now this become common practice in this civilised world to hire Terrorist and give them money, equipment and training in the name of opposition of that country. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait are the key players in this dirty drama of Syria and Iraq. How many innocent peoples killed by these sponsor terrorist, no body knows exact figure, rough estimate says more than 200,000/=. I think if no body sponsor Terrorism, then this world will become paradise otherwise day by day this world will become hell for poor and helpless peoples.

by: Delmonte from: USA
June 20, 2014 11:39 AM
US warmonger Punksident Obama and US news media have spinning on news to pressure China to give up its territory. US assist SOS came to Vietnam to lie about China 's territory on May 7 and falsely accessed China with his lies.
Xisha islands is just south of Hainan island and have been the home of about 400 Chinese fishing families for many generations.
There has never been dispute prior to 1974 when S.Vietnam thought that it could conquer it with its 3 modern destroyers given by US against China 's old navy ships, 1/3 is size, but was defeated.
Vietnam in its diplomatic official letter to Chinese Premier In 1958 recognized this as China's indisputable territory n ordered its departments to cooperate with China in all activities.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 21, 2014 7:44 AM
Delmonte! Wow, what knowledge you have of the China/Vietnam ongoing conflict, kudos brother. We are talking about Iraq for now, if that's OK with you. Right continent, wrong topic. Solid point, but I thought I was on the wrong page when I was reading your comment. Before you rip on our president, remember, he was raised a Sunni Muslim. You just don't walk away from that........EVER! The Sunnis are overtaking Iraq, how much do you think he actually cares? Percentage wise? No matter how much we loathe Obama, and a lot of us do, you can still properly address our president. Remember how we felt when they were insulting Bush? Remember how we thought of those who did?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs