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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (2)
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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid