News / Middle East

    Iraqi Forces Launch Push to Retake Area North of Baghdad

    FILE - Iraqi security forces take combat position at the front-line with Islamic State group militants as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are tightened the siege of Ramadi, Iraq,  Nov. 30, 2015.
    FILE - Iraqi security forces take combat position at the front-line with Islamic State group militants as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are tightened the siege of Ramadi, Iraq, Nov. 30, 2015.
    Associated Press

    Backed by paramilitary forces and aerial support, Iraqi troops on Tuesday launched a new push to retake a key area north of the capital, Baghdad, and dislodge Islamic State in Iraq (IS) militants from there, officials said.

    The operation came as a group of suicide bombers targeted a military headquarters in western Iraq, killing eight officers on Tuesday. No one immediately claimed responsibility for that attack.

    According to a statement by the Joint Operations Command, the "new offensive" began at dawn in a swath agricultural area northwest of the city of Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, with the aim to cut IS supply lines and to tighten the grip around the IS-held northern city of Mosul.

    The command says paramilitary forces, mostly Shiite militias, and the Iraqi air force were backing the push on the area, called Jazerat Samarra. The statement did not say if the US-led international coalition was involved in the operation.

    Controlling the Jazerat Samarra area will not only restrict the IS militants' movements between the three provinces in the region, but will also be essential for future operations to retake parts of Anbar province and Mosul, said Sabah al-Numan, the spokesman of the counter-terrorism forces.

    Al-Numan told The Associated Press that two vehicles loaded with militants were bombed on Tuesday, and that the security forces managed to hit a would-be suicide car bomber before he reached his target.

    The offensive comes on the heels of two massive bombings in as many days by IS in the area — in the town of Muqdadiyah and in Baghdad — that killed at least 110 people.

    Shiite lawmaker and spokesman for the paramilitary forces, Ahmed al-Asadi, said the offensive "is in retaliation for the blood of our martyrs and to annihilate the terrorist gangs that have wreaked havoc."

    Meanwhile, four suicide bombers disguised in army uniform struck at dawn at the military headquarters in the city of Haditha, 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Baghdad, killing eight troops, including a local army commander, councilman Khalid Salman told the AP.

    One of the bombers first attacked the gate of the building, then the others blew up themselves up when people gathered at the scene to help the victims. Salman said eight soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

    Also on Tuesday, separate attacks in and around Baghdad killed at least 13 people and wounded 31 others, police and health officials said.

    In one attack, militants broke into the house of a solider in the town of Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, killing his wife and two children, aged seven and five years old, a police officer said. The solider was critically wounded, he added.

    In the town of Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, a bomb struck a Shiite militia patrol, killing two and wounding four, the same police officer said. And eight civilians were killed and 26 others wounded in separate bombs attacks against commercial areas in Baghdad on Tuesday, the police said.

    Medical officials confirmed causality fingers. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

    IS still controls much of northern and western Iraq, but has been driven back in recent months in some areas, such as the cities of Ramadi and Tikrit. The government last month declared the western city of Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital, "fully liberated" after it had been captured by IS last year.

    Iraqi ground offensives — despite heavy backing from US-led coalition airstrikes — have been slow in scoring key victories against IS. A campaign to retake Mosul, the main city held by IS in Iraq, has long been believed to be imminent but has not taken off the ground yet.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora