News / Middle East

Iranian Pilot Killed in Iraq Defending Shrine

In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul.
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul.
VOA News

An Iranian pilot was killed defending Shi'ite Muslim holy sites in neighboring Iraq, Iran's state news agency said, in the first official report of an Iranian death related to an upsurge in violence there since June.

Shoja'at Alamdari Mourjani, who was buried in the Iranian city of Shiraz on Friday, was killed while fighting Sunni jihadists in Samarra, north of Baghdad, it said.

Iran's official IRNA news agency did not say whether the pilot died while flying sorties or fighting on the ground, or whether he was in Samarra of his own initiative or on behalf of the Iranian state.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government is fighting an insurgency by Sunni rebels led by an al-Qaida splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who consider Shi'ites heretics.

Shi'ite power Iran has said it will not hesitate to defend Shi'ite holy sites in Iraq if necessary, but it has also said Iraq itself is capable of putting down the rebellion.

Rebels' gains

ISIL has seized territory across the north and west of Iraq, as well as border posts, oil fields, and the north's largest city, Mosul, since June 10.

Shi'ite militias have also joined the fray on the Baghdad government's side against the militants.

Followers of the Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have formed an army under the name of the al-Salam (Peace) brigades to defend Shi'ite holy shrines. 

The Shi'ite al-Salam brigades have been stationed in Samarra since ISIL captured large swathes of territory in the north of country.

Kadhim al-Isawi, commander of the al-Salam brigades, said that his militia were deployed along with other government troops to defend the holy shrine of al-Askari.

The golden-domed al-Askari mosque in Samarra is one of the holiest shrines in Shiite Islam.

A 2006 bombing at the same site exacerbated already severe sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites, fueling a war that killed tens of thousands of people over the next two years.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in violence across Iraq this year, as its sectarian balance comes under acute strain from the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The reports of the pilot's death came as Iranian officials insist their assistance is not in the form of troops, but rather of weapons and equipment if Iraq asks for them.

The militants' advances and their boasts of animosity toward Shi'ism - a branch of Islam overwhelmingly practiced in Iran - have raised alarm in Tehran.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Abram from: Washington
July 06, 2014 11:33 PM
It seems that now is the time for Muslims to start emphasizing peace in their teachings. Any religion can do, and a number has done, this as history tells us.

by: Nwaonyenze from: Owerri
July 06, 2014 3:04 PM
Why is Islam a virus to the world's peace?
Did somebody hear me?

by: ayatollah from: Texas
July 06, 2014 2:15 PM
The Iranian regime, and most Iranians are likely going to be quite ready to kill Sunni Muslims tit for tat. As are the Sunnis, Shias.
Add in multiple Muslim governments, groups and sects and the result is what we see in the Middle East….chaos.
Keeping a lid in passions lit off by violence in a region largely uneducated in anything other than religious dogma is going to result in exactly what we're seeing,,,,,,,chaos.
It is only going to expand, into Saudi out of Yemen, into Jordan out of Syria, into Lebanon out of Gaza and Syria, etc. The best strategy for those on the periphery of this, keep your powder dry and keep them out of yor country if you can. Its only going to continue.

by: Ali baba from: new york
July 06, 2014 12:58 PM
Eventually ISIS will be defeated . They find out that every body is fighting them until they get weaker .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs