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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid