News / Middle East

    US Officials Report Fresh Strikes in Iraq

    Image-grab shows F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet strike on what US army officals call an Islamic State target at undisclosed location in northern Iraq, August 8, 2014.
    Image-grab shows F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet strike on what US army officals call an Islamic State target at undisclosed location in northern Iraq, August 8, 2014.
    VOA News

    The U.S. military says it carried out four more airstrikes against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq who were firing on civilians.

    The U.S. Central Command said Saturday's strikes involved jet fighters and drones and targeted armored carriers and a truck. It described the strikes near Sinjar as successful.​

    Earlier Saturday, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. military airstrikes in Iraq successfully destroyed arms and equipment that Islamic State militants could have used against the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

    Speaking at the White House, Obama said the fight against the group previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will take "more than weeks," and that recent strikes are essential to prevent the militants' advance on Irbil, where American diplomats and military advisers, among others, are stationed.

    Obama said the intervention was also needed to aid Iraqi religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, who fled after the extremist Sunni militants issued an ultimatum ordering groups of civilians to convert to Islam or die. The extremist militia has published videos of its adherents beheading people who fail to comply with such orders.

    On Saturday, Obama also said food and water air-dropped by the U.S. military to the civilians stranded on Mt. Sinjar "will help them survive."

    "Humanitarian effort continues to help the men, women and children," he said, adding it may take time to provide safe passage for those on the mountain.

    The president said the U.S. has also stepped up military assistance to Kurdish forces in Iraq.

    According to statements released by the White House, leaders of both Britain and France have agreed to join the United States in providing help to the refugees, and that on Saturday Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to develop options to secure the civilians' safety.

    The White House also said Obama and French President Francois Hollande agreed on the need for an "urgent, coordinated international response to the humanitarian disaster." The two leaders said they would work together on a longer term strategy to counter the Islamic State group.

    The crisis in Iraq has been at the top of the agenda for the U.S. government for much of the past week. In his weekly address to the nation, broadcast earlier Saturday, the president said he decided to intervene in Iraq because the U.S. "cannot just look away" when "innocent people are facing a massacre."

    After speaking with reporters on the South Lawn, Obama departed Washington to begin his vacation in the northeast state of Massachusetts.

    Iraqi government

    The president also told reporters the most important timetable he is focused on is the formation of an inclusive Iraqi government, so that Iraqis can unite to defend their country from the Islamic State fighters who currently hold large portions of Iraqi territory.

    Iraq's parliament was elected in April but still must choose its leadership. Support has been waning for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite criticized for not involving representatives of other religious and ethnic groups.

    A parliamentary session to select a prime minister-designate that was scheduled for Sunday has been postponed until Monday. According to reports by Iraqi media, confusion among Shi'ite political leaders over the choice of a new prime minister had prompted the move. The delay has breached a 15-day constitutional deadline for naming a new prime minister.

    Clashes near Irbil

    According to White House officials, in one recent strike, the U.S. military dropped 250-kilogram laser-guided bombs on an artillery unit that was shelling Kurdish forces defending Irbil.

    According to witnesseses on the ground, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters succeeded in rescuing hundreds of the stranded Yazidi refugees, apparently holding Islamic State militants along a defensive line approximately 50 kilometers south of the Kurdish capital.

    Bakhtyar Dogan, a spokesman for the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the People's Protection Forces, told VOA Kurdish Service on Saturday that Islamic State militants had been marching on Irbil.

    “The militants are close to a refugee camp on the outskirts of Irbil," he said. "It poses a serious threat. We are fighting back to protect our people, especially women, elderly and children. There were several clashes yesterday between our fighters and the militants.”

    Retired U.S. Brigadier General Ernie Audino told VOA Kurdish that the United States should strengthen Kurdish forces to effectively fight the Islamic State. 

    “I believe that we need to arm the Kurds, support the Kurds in a way that will allow them to maintain and exploit the conditions on the ground and we can set with a legitimate air campaign coordinated with Peshmarga operations on the ground.”

    The U.S. airstrikes and the promise of further help by U.S. President Barack Obama appear to have left some Iraqi leaders optimistic.

    Fouad Hussein, the Chief of Staff to the Presidency of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told reporters Saturday that his men have been fighting an uphill battle against the Islamic State militants, but have now started to regain a sense of initiative in the wake of U.S. support.

    Iraqi leaders thanked U.S. forces for the targeted airstrikes and for air-dropping relief packages for the stranded refugees.

    "We are most grateful and express our gratitude and deep, deep appreciation for President Obama and the U.S. administration, and for the courageous U.S. Army and airmen who are now patrolling the skies of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan," said former Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, an ethnic Kurd.

    Zebari's comments echoed similar sentiments expressed by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum, who also called the strikes crucial to the counter-insurgency.

    The Islamic militant group, which has captured significant amounts of military hardware the U.S. had previously supplied Iraqi forces, now controls a large swathe of eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq. It has declared the area a "caliphate," and is actively recruiting other fighters to join the group.

    Refugee crisis

    In Washington on Friday, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes met at the White House with members of the Yazidi community to discuss the situation in northern Iraq and said the United States will continue to provide humanitarian support.

    According to Iraqi news media reports, Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk, met with Iraq's top Shi'ite religious cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, at his home in Najaf, where both men urged the world to help alleviate the refugee crisis and insisted that all Iraqis, including Ayatollah Sistani, were united in combating the militants.

    According to Sako, more than 100,000 Christians have fled the region surrounding Mosul.

    The International Organization for Migration says the number of internally displaced people in Iraq now exceeds 1 million.

    VIDEO: US Airstrikes Raise Hopes, Stakes in Iraq:

    US Airstrikes Raise Hopes, Stakes in Iraqi
    X
    Jeff Seldin
    August 09, 2014 1:31 AM
    The United States is starting to pound selected Islamic State militant group targets around the Iraqi city of Irbil from the air. And defense officials warn they will not hesitate to pull the trigger if the terror group makes any moves that could threaten U.S. personnel or refugees seeking shelter from the group’s brutality. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.

    VOA reporter Kokab Farshori and White House correspondent Luis Ramirez contributed to this report. Ed Yeranian contributed reporting from Cairo.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 4
        Next 
    by: Anonymous
    August 10, 2014 1:05 AM
    its intrasting to see US approves air strikes against ISIS , but in the case of Assad gasing and killing 150,000 Syriyans , USA ,EU, Great Britain did not lift the finger, same when Burmese Army is salugtering and killing Kachin ethnic group of Northern Burma...Burmese regime has marked certain ethnic minorities such as the Karen, Karenni , Shan, and Rohingya for extermination...650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced... Why US did not stop genocide in ,CAR(Africa),Congo, ,Bosnia, Rwanda, Chechnya, Palestine .....Why because black and Muslim people were dying in those nations and they were killed by millions that is Why.....shame on all for letting all these wars happened and destroying small countries just so that some people can get richer even more ....When will the world get togheter and end all these Wars....shame on all of us

    by: ichiro from: US
    August 09, 2014 11:35 PM
    President Obama’s authorization of limited military operations against militants in Iraq is not enough to counter a growing threat to the United States. I agree John McCain accessment. Therefor, we should hane a full military operation with our ground troop on foot against militants in Iraq.

    by: wavettore from: USA
    August 09, 2014 10:56 PM
    The many wars that are spreading in Ukraine, Iraq and Gaza have one single matrix. This took over the most complete control with the event of 9/11.
    It must have been child play for some cover agents to divide the farmers in Ukraine and to instigate them into a civil war. Just as simple as it was to detain and train the chief of the ISIS movement Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to then release him in 2009 and let him go to form an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq. The conflict between Israel and Gaza is instead something more meaningful in regard to what the future may bring for all of us.

    All that is happening is part of a Plan which is clear and well defined.
    Many will remain skeptical in regard to the existence of this conspiracy in spite of what is in front of their eyes.
    These people would probably like to see proofs as letters, videotapes or confessions on Live TV.
    Instead one should connect all the acquired certainties from the past events to recognize the clear Direction already well defined by this Plot.
    All these circumstances should be more than enough evidence for all those who have eyes to see.
    At the present time the strategy of the conspirators seems to be winning as politicians and representatives of the people, the same Obama, have their hands tied since the secret agencies of almost every Country act independently and work on payroll of the conspirators who among other things can afford to pay more. They have already bought the media.
    The conspiracy is not a theory.
    The Zionists want the next World War at all costs and believe they would know how to control it and to come out unblemished.

    Then how to address now the many local conflicts before they spill into a new World War?
    It would take for the people to recognize the outlines of this hidden hand and for these conflicts to be unified under the same umbrella.

    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/humanwaves.html

    by: yto from: Japan
    August 09, 2014 10:32 PM
    permition to say (sory no good english)
    BANZAI ISRAEL - BANZAI BANZAI BANZAI !!!

    by: pako from: israel
    August 09, 2014 10:20 PM
    The Israeli army killed hundreds of infants and children and innocent men and women, and the Israeli army hit the 10.000 babies and children and innocent men and women,! That's because the Israeli soldiers are afraid to fight the terrorists! The soldiers just bomb the planes and tanks and guns and war spnity! The soldiers know where the terrorists but the soldiers are afraid to go and fight them! Then the Israeli soldiers were not cowards to kill infants and children and unarmed men and women and innocent! It doesn't matter to the Israeli soldiers! Israelis always cowardly murderers of innocent thousands murdered and then run away like rabbits all over the world to achieve a cease-fire, because from entering Gaza and to fight the terrorists are really scared!

    by: Flyby from: RI
    August 09, 2014 8:28 PM
    It's always Islamic militants perpetrating violence on the innocent.
    At their primitive level of consciousness they believe their mythology is superior to all other mythologies and religions. They are badly deluded murderers who will find themselves on the lowest astral planes in the hell like regions. The President is doing the right thing in defending and protecting the innocent.

    by: Davis Y
    August 09, 2014 8:21 PM
    What I learned about the Muslim world could be summarized by the following from the novel, The Haj written by Leon Uris:

    “So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world. And all of us against the infidel.”

    by: ryan from: california
    August 09, 2014 8:18 PM
    Why is no one talking about these terrorist groups running through Iraq being the same people Obama has supported in Syria.?

    by: Melon men from: Los Angeles
    August 09, 2014 8:11 PM
    I am absolutely proud of the USA effort but it seems to be too little to late

    by: grace from: irons mi
    August 09, 2014 7:58 PM
    Wow who knew that would be really bad .
    Comments page of 4
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora