News / Middle East

Iraq Sends Volunteer Force to Ramadi

Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), march during training in Baghdad, July 9, 2014.
Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), march during training in Baghdad, July 9, 2014.
Edward Yeranian

Iraqi government TV reported that the 4,000 volunteers were being airlifted to Ramadi from the country's mostly Shi'ite regions of Karbala, Baghdad, Najaf and Basrah. It said Anbar province governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi made the announcement in a statement Saturday.

Anbar province military commander General Rashid Flayeh indicated that around 2,500 of the volunteers had been flown into Ramadi Friday by helicopter. The rest were expected to be flown in Saturday. Government forces currently control Ramadi, although Sunni insurgents hold the Anbar town of Faluja, 25 kilometers from Baghdad.

A spokesman for Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged volunteers and regular army forces to respect the rights of Iraqi citizens in regions where they are fighting, no matter what their sectarian, ethnic or political affiliations may be. Sheikh Abdul Mehdi al-Karbalai made the plea in a sermon Friday.

ISIL Attacks in Iraq
 
  • June 10: Mosul captured
  • June 11: Tikrit and parts of Beiji captured
  • June 12: Samarra and Dhuluiya captured
  • June 13: Jalawla and Saadiyah captured
  • June 14: Clashes in Ishaki and Dujail
  • June 16: Tal Afar captured

Ayatollah Sistani issued a religious edict last month calling for volunteers to defend Iraq from Sunni ISIL militants who have captured large chunks of the country north and west of the capital, Baghdad. Increasing acts of sectarian violence, both by Sunni ISIL militants and by mostly-Shi'ite government forces have been reported in recent days.

The mostly-Shi'ite Iraqi government forces are under pressure from Sunni militants, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Peshmerga fighters took control Friday of two major oil fields south of the contested town of Kirkuk from government forces. Peshmerga fighters captured Kirkuk itself from the government last month.

Kurdish leaders have been locked in a tug-of-war with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over oil revenues since late last year. Falah Mustafa Bakir, who heads the foreign relations department of the Kurdish Regional Government, blasted the Maliki government and defended the Kurdish seizure of oil fields.

“Unfortunately, since the beginning of this year, Prime Minister Maliki unilaterally and unlawfully has cut the budget of the Kurdistan region and stopped sending the payment of salaries of civil servants," he said. " We are obliged to take action in order to provide services and pay the salaries of the people.”

Neighboring Turkey has agreed to allow Kurdistan to pump its oil via Kirkuk to the Ceyhan pipeline over its territory. It is not clear, however, how Turkey will ultimately react if Kurdistan goes ahead with a possible move toward independence from Baghdad.

Middle East scholar Gary Sick of Columbia University told VOA that Kurdistan is strategically hemmed in by its more powerful neighbors, who are not likely to look favorably on Kurdish independence.

"The big problem with Kurdistan is that it is surrounded by a group of countries who have no interest for the most part in seeing a really independent Kurdistan," Sick said. " And, also, economically they are isolated. They basically have one product to get out and that's the oil from the oil fields in the north. They have no way to get it out except through Turkey, which means in effect that Turkey can dictate to them at any point what they want to do.”

Sick said Iran is also concerned about potential Kurdish independence, due to its own Kurdish population. Iran, he argues might decide to put pressure on the Kurds by refusing to allow the passage of goods across its border.

In other developments, ISIL militants reportedly fought Iraqi government forces inside the strategically located town of Haditha. The government beat back the ISIL attackers Saturday, amid worries that a major dam outside the town could fall to the militants. ISIL flooded surrounding towns earlier this year after it captured another Anbar province dam.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robert Ezergailis from: Canada
July 13, 2014 12:03 PM
What journalists seem to be missing on that one, is the fact that Ramadi is almost entirely a Sunni population of more than 500,000 people, with the city stretching more than 60 km along the Eurphrates. Sending significant numbers of Shiite militia into Ramadi raises the grave concern that the militia will act to terrorize the Sunni population, consistent with their past practices. There is a very real danger of the most horrifying developments in any such situation and certainly a clear escalation of the sectarian nature of the Iraq conflict.


by: Christian from: Canada
July 12, 2014 3:00 PM
"Volunteer Force"..??? - Shia terrorists more like. The more we read about Iraq, Syria, Philistines, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, Iran... the more we can't stand these despicable Arabs and the more vividly the venom of Islam becomes evident. It is the foretold "clash of civilizations" that we have been fighting since the Crusades... We need a STRONG ISRAEL we need a STRONG US to effect a decisive change in this ME caldron of depravity.

we start by stopping Arab / Muslim immigration into Canada NOW!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid