News / Middle East

Iraqi PM: Government Forces Winning Against Militants

  • A member of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces stands guard during an intensive security deployment in Baghdad's Amiriya district, June 18, 2014.
  • Shi'ite volunteers who joined the Iraqi army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant gesture with their weapons in Baghdad, June 18, 2014.
  • A member of Iraqi security forces stands guard in front of volunteers who joined the army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Baghdad, June 17, 2014.
  • Shi'ite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Basra, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
  • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during military-style training in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, June 16, 2014.
  • Iraqi army soldiers stand guard in Baghdad, June 16, 2014.
  • A volunteer who joined the Iraqi Army to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant holds a weapon during a parade in Al-Fdhiliya district, eastern Baghdad, June 15, 2014.
  • A vehicle belonging to Kurdish security forces fires a multiple rocket launcher during clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the outskirts of Diyala, Iraq, June 14, 2014.
  • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
  • This image posted on a militant website on June 14, 2014 appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
Edward Yeranian
Despite the loss of the town of Tal Afar, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq's prime minister and his military spokesman continue to insist that government forces are winning the battle against Sunni militants in combat north of the capital. Despite the assurances, many foreign embassies have ordered the evacuation of personnel as fears grow over the possible fall of Baghdad.

 
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
 
  • Formed by members of al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria and Iraq
  • Aims to establish an Islamic emirate across Syria and Iraq
  • Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq
  • Believed to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters
  • Has launched high-profile attacks in both countries
Iraqi state TV showed a crowd of Iraqi soldiers south of the capital overnight cheering Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as he delivered a defiant speech, boasting his forces would defeat Sunni militants from the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

He said those who are plotting for, counting on or idly imagining that Iraq, Mosul or the armed forces are going to fall are deceiving themselves.  It is those politicians themselves who bet on the fall of Mosul or the country who have sullied themselves before history and will be punished for it this day, the next, and before God Almighty.
 
Despite Maliki's confident tone, he went on to threaten Arab TV networks and local Iraqi media, which he accused of playing with the security of the country.  He insisted that they would be punished in accordance with Iraqi law.
 
Conflicting stories

Military spokesman Sa'ad Ma'an echoed the prime minister, accusing Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV of broadcasting misinformation.  The TV reported Sunday that Baghdad airport had come under attack and flights were suspended.  VOA was unable to independently confirm if the story was true or false.
 
Spokesman Ma'an said government forces had made progress in combating the advancing Sunni militants.

He said that Baghdad security forces have killed 56 “terrorists” and wounded 21 others during the past 24 hours.  He claimed that all of the operations were defensive ground actions.

 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
But according to eyewitness reports, Iraqi government forces were defeated in heavy combat overnight and driven out of the mostly Turkmen town of Tal Afar, northwest of Baghdad.
 
ISIL posted gruesome photos Sunday of hundreds of soldiers whom it claimed to have executed after they had surrendered. The government cut Internet service across most of the country, apparently to prevent the circulation of such photos and other negative news.
 
Iraqi refugees also complained about government bombing.  One woman said she had fled Kirkuk, now under Kurdish control, because government planes were attacking targets inside the city.  It was not immediately clear if the planes were targeting Kurdish forces.
 
Ashirqiya TV also reported government warplanes bombed the mostly Sunni town of Falouja, 40 kilometers west of Baghdad, which is now under control of Sunni militants.  The TV added that 13 civilians died from government shelling and air raids.

Sunni ambitions
 
American University of Beirut political science professor Hilal Khashan tells VOA he thinks it is unlikely that Sunni militants will be able to capture Baghdad or Shi'ite holy cities in the south of Iraq, as they have vowed.
 
"I do not think ISIL has the capacity to reach Baghdad.  Baghdad's defenses are quite strong and their ability to reach the Shi'ite shrines in Karbala are unachievable.  ISIL has a plan to create a Sunni state.  It will not serve their purposes to get as far as Baghdad or Karbala and get bogged down in a battle they cannot win.  They are fighting in parts of Iraq where they have a good chance of winning," said Khashan.
 
Various media organizations have reported that Iran has sent elite Revolutionary Guard troops to Iraq to help the Maliki government.  Secretary of State Kerry has also proposed the United States discuss the defense of Baghdad directly with the Iranian government.  Iran's national security advisor, Admiral Ali Shamkani, met Monday with the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan.

UN evacuates personnel from Baghdad

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq says about 58 staffers have been moved from Baghdad and its surrounding areas to Amman, Jordan.  Haq said they will be sent to Irbil when possible.

The U.N. has just under 200 international non-essential and essential employees in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. Haq said some more re-locations may be made in the coming days.


Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
June 16, 2014 6:24 PM
MY OPINION? -- Don't trust the US President who bowed to the Wahhabi Sunni Saudi King?

THE WISE MAN said it; "Where others see defeat, the wise man see's victory" (from) "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu -- (BECAUSE?) -- the approximately 3,000 Sunni (ISIL) plus the approximately 30,000 US trained Sunni Security Forces that switched sides, are spread out over at least a thousand square miles, trying to defend around (7) to (15) cites and towns -- (WHEREAS?) -- the full power of the Iraq Shia government forces, will concentrate on taking back one city and town at a time?

VICTORY for the Shia government is assured, as long as they don't listen to an outside country wanting a ceasefire, and dividing the country up.... don't pause, and finish the job you have to do... for Iraq and the Iraqi people...

by: Robert Ezergailis from: Ontario, Canada
June 16, 2014 2:10 PM
While I believe that it may be appropriate for the United States and others to provide some forms of non lethal material aid, and particularly humanitarian aid, I firmly believe that not one shot ought to be fired by Americans in the current round of Mideast confrontations between Sunni and Shiite rivals. They ought to be left to fight their own battles, and resolve their own problems, without western, particularly American, involvement.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs