News / Middle East

Iraqi Government Prepares to Defend Baghdad

Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carry weapons and wave Iraqi flags during a parade in the streets of eastern Baghdad June 15, 2014.
Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carry weapons and wave Iraqi flags during a parade in the streets of eastern Baghdad June 15, 2014.
VOA News
In a bid to reassure the situation is under control, Iraqi state TV shows video of hundreds of volunteers standing in front of a military recruiting station Sunday. They interviewed military commanders to reinforce the message that popular enthusiasm to fight Sunni militants from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is strong.

But it is not immediately clear whether Iraqi government forces are gaining or losing ground.  

Eyewitness reports and information on rival television networks are contradictory.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at media organizations on Friday for allegedly “distorting the truth.”  

The government cut Internet connections Sunday, in another sign of nervousness.

Iraqi government forces are digging trenches outside the northern entrances of the capital Baghdad, as worries grow that advancing Sunni militants will attack the city.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has announced that in view of the ongoing violence it is relocating some diplomatic personnel, but will keep its embassy in Baghdad open and operating.

"Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated.... Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.," said a statement by the State Despartment.

Making headway

A top government official says Iraqi forces have "regained the initiative" in their fight against Sunni militants who have seized large parts of the country and vow to overrun Baghdad.

The prime minister's security spokesman, Lt. General Qassem Atta, told reporters on Sunday that Iraqi forces have killed 279 "terrorists" since Saturday.
 
The military also claims it has inflicted heavy losses on militants fighting for control of the key town of Tal Afar, near the Syrian border.
 
The government's claim and casualty numbers are hard to verify. But Iraqi forces and Shiite volunteers are starting to regroup and bolster their defenses, especially around Baghdad.
 
Many government fighters abandoned their positions and left their weapons and vehicles behind last week as the militants seized territory in the north.
 
A boy, who fled from the violence in Mosul, stands near tents in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 14, 2014.A boy, who fled from the violence in Mosul, stands near tents in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 14, 2014.
x
A boy, who fled from the violence in Mosul, stands near tents in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 14, 2014.
A boy, who fled from the violence in Mosul, stands near tents in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 14, 2014.

Residents leave Mosul

Asharqiya TV showed long lines of hundreds of vehicles, which it claimed continue to flee Mosul.

A Kurdish local official said on Sunday that he expected the number of refugees fleeing violence from Mosul to Arbil to increase, Reuters reported.
 
An estimated 500,000 Iraqis have already fled Mosul, home to some 2 million people, and the surrounding province, the International Organization for Migration said.

Sunni militants also reportedly blew up two churches inside the city and many, if not all, remaining Christian residents of the city have reportedly fled.

Baghdad's forces will be joined by a flood of volunteers, urged on by a call to arms from top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
 
A recruitment center for such volunteers at the town of Khales in central Iraq came under mortar attack on Sunday, leaving six people dead, including three Iraqi soldiers, police and a doctor told AFP.

While thousands of Shi'ite volunteers turned out in government-held areas to join the Iraqi military, some reports say many Sunnis were reportedly joining the militants and their allies.

In Cairo, Arab League deputy head Ahmed Ben Helli told a news conference the group's ministerial council is “supporting the Iraqi government's effort to defeat the terrorists.”

But Helli urged the country's fractious leaders to “overcome their political and religious differences ... and to form a united government.”

Troubling photos

Also on Sunday, ISIL posted graphic photos online that appear to show its fighters massacring dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers, according to an AP report.
 
The pictures on a militant website appear to show ISIL masked fighters loading the captives, dressed in civilian clothes, onto flatbed trucks before forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms tied behind their backs. 
 
The final images show the bodies of the captives soaked in blood after being shot.
 
The captions of the photos said the killings were to avenge the killing of an ISIL commander, Abdul-Rahman al-Beilawy, whose death was reported by both the government and ISIL shortly before the al-Qaida splinter group's lightning offensive.
 
Iraq's top military spokesman, Lieutenant General Qassim al-Moussawi, confirmed the photos' authenticity and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of captured Iraqi soldiers in areas held by ISIL, the AP reported.
 
Most of the soldiers who appear in the pictures are in civilian clothes. Some are shown wearing military uniforms underneath, indicating they may have hastily disguised themselves as civilians to try to escape.
 
The captions did not provide a date or location, but al-Moussawi said the killings took place in Salahuddin province.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the images horrifying and a true depiction of the bloodlust these terrorists represent.

VOA's Edward Yeranian contibuted to this report from Cairo. Some information provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 15, 2014 3:26 PM
Sad situation but they must protect their homes and property from criminal bandits.

In Response

by: Anonymous
June 15, 2014 5:17 PM
they ARE the criminals and bandits...!!!


by: Dave1967 from: Tennessee
June 15, 2014 2:02 PM
Iran will wind up being the country which helps Iraq in their time of need. While the US sits around indecisively unable to make a decision about how to help Iraq.


by: meanbill from: USA
June 15, 2014 12:19 PM
MY OPINION? -- This US President bowed to the Saudi King -- (AND?) -- (knowingly or unknowingly), this US President is creating violence, killings, destruction and wars, in all the Islamic countries that would be a threat for this Saudi King to assume the Caliphate. -- (CRAZY isn't it?) -- This Saudi King and the other Islamic Monarchies, are the one's funding and supplying the extremists and terrorists, that's also fighting against those countries that threaten the Saudi King assuming the Caliphate? --- (THINK about it?) ... it's my opinion, REALLY


by: Ron from: Santa Rosa Beach
June 15, 2014 11:18 AM
This is ALL Obama's fault. It was Obama that set up the "status of forces" that REQUIRED that the Iraq LEGISLATURE pass it instead of by executive order.

Obama set this up as designed to fail so he could withdraw from Iraq.

2010 was a fairly safe and secure Iraq.

This is OBAMA's disaster and NOBODY else.

In Response

by: ronaldmason from: Santa Rosa Beach
June 15, 2014 9:53 PM
Chris: You are an idiot.

http://www.humanevents.com/2011/11/29/iraq-status-of-forces-agreement/

To complicate things even more and to make them even less palatable, Obama insisted that the immunity provisions would have to be approved by the Iraqi Parliament, not just by the Prime Minister’s office, as is often the case. Once the Iraqi Parliament got involved in the negotiations, things would become extremely complicated and difficult, if not impossible.

In Response

by: Chris from: Virginia
June 15, 2014 4:11 PM
It was Bush that signed the status of forces.
Get your facts straight.


by: Bob Forsberg from: southern California
June 15, 2014 11:10 AM
It would be encouraging to see the inhabitants of these countries actually take up arms in defending themselves before the invaders take over and call on us for more money, more armaments and more of our children to die for their inactions.

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 15, 2014 3:03 PM
MY OPINION? -- (A conspiracy?) -- "It was the (US trained Iraq Security Forces) that took off their uniforms in the streets as planned, and walk away without firing a single shot" -- (AND NOW?) -- Look at who's supplying the military weapons and supplies to the Sunni extremists/terrorists including the (ISIL) fighting against the Assad Syrian government, and who are now joining with those same Sunni (US trained Iraq Security Forces) that took off their uniforms in the streets, to attack and overthrow the Maliki Shia led government?

MY OPINION? -- The US is training and supplying weapons to the extremists/terrorists in Jordan and Turkey, to fight and overthrow the Syrian government -- (AND?) -- (the US is also training the Iraq Security Forces) -- that took off their uniforms in the streets, and walked off without firing a single shot -- with most of them joining with the extremist/terrorist coming from Syria, with the weapons and supplies they got from the US. -- (AND THE QUESTION IS?) -- Who's side is America on?

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 15, 2014 12:41 PM
REMEMBER? -- It was the (US trained Iraq Security Forces) that took off their uniforms in the streets, and walked away, or joined the (ISIL) terrorists, wasn't it?

NOW? -- Was it the training the (US trained Iraq Security Forces) received, that caused them to take their uniforms off and not fight (like cowards) at the same time, (or was it), a pre-planned strategy by an outside country to overthrow the Shia led Maliki government? -- (US TRAINED?) -- and they did WHAT? -- (Strange isn't it?)


by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 15, 2014 10:50 AM
wow! Many unrests have been popping up in many places.

In Response

by: Solomon from: USA
June 15, 2014 6:36 PM
It is your American father's another excellent work.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid