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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs