News / Middle East

Iraqi Forces Break Siege of Northern Town

  • Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen patrol in Amirli, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Shi'ite volunteers carry their weapons during an intensive security deployment to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Members of the Kurdish Peshmerga force man their position at Sulaiman Pek front line in the northwest of Tikrit city, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Shi'ite volunteers are seen with their weapons during an intensive security deployment to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Mourners carry the coffins of Iraqi Shi'ite volunteers, who were killed during clashes with militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Amerli, during a funeral in Khalis, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Shiite militiamen patrol in Amirli, Iraq, after breaking a siege by the Islamic State extremist group on the town, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Baghdad, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Shiite militiamen patrol in Amirli, 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • A general view of road sign and a road in Sulaiman Pek in Salahuddin province, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • The wreckage of a Humvee belonging to Islamic State militants lies along a road after it was targeted by Iraqi security forces and Iraqi Shi'ite volunteers, in the town of Sulaiman Pek in Salahuddin province, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga force fires a dushka at Sulaiman Pek front line in the northwest of Tikrit city, Aug. 31, 2014.
Developments in Iraq, Sunday, Aug. 31
VOA News

Iraqi officials said their forces have ended a siege by Islamic militants on the northern town of Amerli, where thousands of people have been trapped for over two months with dwindling food, water and medical supplies.

Lieutenant General Qassim al-Moussawi said that Iraqi forces along with Shi'ite militiamen entered the town around midday Sunday. 

"The Iraqi troops were able to enter the town of Amerli," Moussawi said. "And the military operations of clearing villages around Amerli are still going on. The battles are still continuing as our forces are advancing forward."

The battle was hailed as a huge strategic victory for the Iraqi security forces and the militia fighters who joined them after a summer that saw the Islamic State lead other Sunni armed groups in seizing almost one-third of the country's territory.

Military spokesman Qassim al-Atta described Amerli as a launching pad to retake the northern province of Salahuddin, including its capital, which was captured by Islamic State militants in June.

Airstrikes, aid drop

The U.S. Defense Department said the United States conducted airstrikes Saturday against the Islamic State militants around Amerli and dropped humanitarian aid to those trapped in the town.  

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said  in a statement the U.S. Air Force delivered the aid alongside aircraft from Australia, France and Britain.

Kirby said the U.S. military conducted coordinated airstrikes against nearby Islamic State terrorists to support the humanitarian assistance operation.

In other developments Sunday, two suicide bombers detonated vehicles rigged with explosives near security positions in the western city of Ramadi, killing at least 13 people.

Australia said it is joining the international effort to supply weapons to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State militants.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday the situation in Iraq is a "humanitarian catastrophe."

He said Australia will continue to work with international partners to "address the security threat" posed by the militants.

NATO summit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will use a NATO summit later this week to push for a coalition of countries to fight the Sunni extremists.

Kerry, writing in the New York Times on Saturday, called the Islamic State militancy a "cancer," and he vowed "it will not be allowed to spread to other countries."

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein suggested President Barack Obama is moving too slowly in developing a strategy to combat Islamic State.

"I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he is very cautious.  Maybe, in this instance, too cautious," Feinstein said on NBC's Meet the Press.

Feinstein said the U.S. should work with other countries threatened by the militants.

"Hopefully those plans will coalesce into a strategy that will encourage that coalition from Arab nations - you know, Jordan's at jeopardy, Lebanon's at jeopardy, the UAE and other countries are in jeopardy," Feinstein said. "So there is good reason for people to come together now and begin to approach this as the very real threat that it in fact is."

Saudi response

Separately, in comments published early Saturday, Saudi King Abdullah warned that Islamic State extremists could target Europe and the United States, if the West fails to agree on a strong response to the militancy. 

Official Saudi media quoted the king as saying the "terrorists do not know the name of humanity, and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street."

Public outrage over the beheading of an American journalist and several mass executions claimed by militants in nearby Syria has led President Obama to consider strikes on militant targets in eastern Syria.

Kerry said he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will seek support at the September 5 NATO summit in Wales for "the broadest possible assistance" in acting against the militancy.

The two Americans then will visit Middle East capitals to solidify support from countries directly threatened by the extremist movement.

German jihadists

Elsewhere, Germany's domestic intelligence chief said Sunday young Muslims are attracted to the Islamic fighters in Iraq and Syria because of the group's brutality, radicalism and rigor.  

Hans-Georg Maassen told Deutschlandfunk radio at least 400 Germans have joined the Islamic fighters and there is evidence at least five have carried out suicide attacks for the insurgents.

Sunday the German government is to decide whether to send military aid to the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State forces in Iraq.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
September 01, 2014 6:11 PM
CRAZY isn't it?... The Saudi Arabian king of the nation of Wahhabi Sunni Muslims, that beheads, and kills, and cuts hands off, of criminals under Islamic law, (condemns), what the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim ultra-extremist army does to their captured war prisoners, (that's just like), what the Prophet Muhammad did to captured prisoners, when he spread the Islamic religion by the sword?.... Crazy isn't it?

by: Mr A from: new york
August 31, 2014 11:41 AM
Up to 400 German Jihadist are recruited and they are fighting in Iraq. still all Europe and USA and Canada have not look for Muslim communities which they actively spread hate message and used this hate message to set stage to brain washing mentally ill whom they blame the society for all the problem they encounter. In the video which published in New York times, it is about a Canadian who urged other people for jihad . he indicated in his video that his tax money is used to kill Muslim and Muslim has an obligation to fight back. This mentally person is used to kill innocent people and used the most barbaric means of killing to kill . the fact the west has no problem with Islam .the fact Islam has a problem for every body. Islam has created catastrophe for south Sudan which these people has no involvement for any hostility what so ever. in Pakistan minority suffered the one of the worst prosecution . similar situation in Iraq and Egypt. The Islamic communities in Western nation have betrayal the countries they live and acting against everybody by giving money and ask individual to be jihadist

by: RobertMorris from: USA
August 31, 2014 10:42 AM
Did the Iraqi army break through or was it, once again, the Kurds. Big difference. And will the aid go TO the Kurds for use in fighting off the Islamist extremists or will it go to Baghdad FOR the Kurds - which means they are unlikely to ever see it and it is more likely to end up being used against them.

by: Solid Oak from: NY
August 31, 2014 8:34 AM
King Abdullah: "If the west fails to agree on a strong response....". With Saudi's Trillions of dollars sitting in European Banks and huge arsenal of Weaponry (50 Billion Dollars of military budget a year) that is sitting idle; and he is waiting for a European response. I would like to know What is King Abdullah's response, can some one help me figure that out?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More