News / Middle East

US Pledges to Help Iraq Repel Militants

A family fleeing the violence in Mosul, Iraq, waits at a checkpoint in the country’s Kurdistan region on June 11, 2014.
A family fleeing the violence in Mosul, Iraq, waits at a checkpoint in the country’s Kurdistan region on June 11, 2014.
VOA News
With security in Iraq quickly deteriorating, the United States on Wednesday pledged "any appropriate assistance" to help the Iraqi government fend off a rapid military advance by Islamist militants.

Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) hours earlier overran the city of Tikrit and closed in on Iraq's biggest oil refinery in the town of Beiji, a day after seizing Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul.

By late Wednesday, militants had reached the edge of Samarra, an important Shi'ite shrine almost 113 kilometers, or 70 miles, north of Baghdad, The New York Times reported. The militants threatened to destroy the shrine unless government forces left.

 
Cities Mosul, Tikrit and Beiji, IraqCities Mosul, Tikrit and Beiji, Iraq
x
Cities Mosul, Tikrit and Beiji, Iraq
Cities Mosul, Tikrit and Beiji, Iraq
Witnesses said militants have taken over several Tikrit police stations and the governor reportedly is missing. Tikrit, the hometown of fallen Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is less than 200 kilometers, or 124 miles, from Baghdad and the central government.

The State Department has had no confirmation of news reports that militants were heading for Baghdad, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a news briefing. "It is a very fluid situation on the ground," she added. "We are of course very concerned about the deteriorating situation."

Militants still control Mosul

Militants continue to hold Mosul, as both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ninevah Provincial Governor Athil Nujeifi urged residents to fight to retake it.
 
Maliki blasted Iraqi military officials who deserted their posts and fled Mosul, claiming in a speech Wednesday that they were part of a plot.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday that fears of further violence in Mosul forced 500,000 people to flee their homes. It said the displaced either moved across the city or fled to other parts of Ninevah province or the neighboring Kurdish province of Irbil.
 
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

Turkish government sources said militants have seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul, kidnapping at least 48 people, including the Turkish consul, staff members, guards and three children. The militants already had abducted 31 other Turkish citizens, truck drivers who were being held at a Mosul power station.

Psaki said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had discussed the situation by phone.

"We are in touch with the governments of Turkey and Iraq and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance,'' she said.

Washington this year already had increased training of Iraqi security forces and expedited military equipment supplies, Psaki said.

"We are working with Iraqi leaders from across the country to support a coordinated response," Psaki said, "and you can expect we will provide additional assistance to the Iraqi government to combat the threat from ISIL.'

At the United Nations in New York, Davutoglu warned Wednesday that any harm to Turkish citizens would be met with the "harshest retaliation."

Global oil prices climb

Militants had entered Beiji, set fire to the police station and courthouse, and driven out some 250 men guarding the refinery. With news of the seizure and threat to Iraq's oil supply, global oil prices climbed to $110 a barrel.
 
With tightened security measures, an Iraqi federal policeman conducts a search at aBaghdad checkpoint on June. 11, 2014.With tightened security measures, an Iraqi federal policeman conducts a search at aBaghdad checkpoint on June. 11, 2014.
x
With tightened security measures, an Iraqi federal policeman conducts a search at aBaghdad checkpoint on June. 11, 2014.
With tightened security measures, an Iraqi federal policeman conducts a search at aBaghdad checkpoint on June. 11, 2014.
Separately, at least 16 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Baghdad. The attack took place at a tent where people had gathered in Sadr City's Shi'ite neighborhood.   

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Wednesday that Iraq's leaders must unite to face what he called a "serious, mortal threat" facing the country.

The militants' seizure of Iraqi cities and their swift advance southward constitute a stunning defeat for the country's Shi'ite-led government.

Hundreds of fleeing soldiers reportedly tore off their uniforms and fled their posts for the safety of nearby Kurdistan. One soldier told Iraq's al-Sharqiya TV that he had come "face-to-face with vicious Pakistani fighters" and "felt incapable of pushing them back."

Declaration of emergency sought

Maliki, saying the country is "undergoing a difficult stage," asked parliament to call an urgent session to declare a state of emergency.

The parliament's speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi, characterized the militants' takeover of Mosul as "a catastrophe by any measure" and described the scene there.

"When battles intensified inside the city of Mosul, the [Iraqi] forces abandoned their weapons and the commanders fled, leaving behind weapons, armored vehicles,"  al-Nujaifi said. "Their positions were easy prey for terrorists, even Mosul airport. Planes and command positions -- all of them have fallen, in addition to weapons caches. Also, prisons were stormed and criminals have been set free. What happened is a catastrophe by any measure."

The attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft weapons. Retreating Iraqi troops set fire to fuel and ammunition depots to keep the insurgents from using them.

Al-Qaida group defies control

The takeover of Mosul was the latest blow against the Iraqi government's attempt to control the growing insurgency by ISIL, an offshoot al-Qaida group. Earlier this year, the group took over another Iraqi city, Fallujah, and government forces have been unable to reclaim it after months of fighting.

To the west of Mosul, the militants have seized control of parts of eastern Syria in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The insurgents are seeking to establish an Islamic state with the regions they control in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Iraq is dealing with its worst violence since 2008, with the United Nations reporting that approximately 4,500 people have been killed this year. More than 900 of the deaths occurred last month.

Related video by Sebastian Meyer, "ISIS Takeover in Mosul Displaces Thousands"  
 
ISIS Takeover in Mosul Displaces Thousandsi
X
June 11, 2014 10:32 PM
The extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) seized control of the western half of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city on June 6. Three days later, Iraqi security forces retreated, leaving the entire city in the hands of the jihadis. According to the U.N., up to half a million people have fled the city, raising concerns over a new humanitarian crisis. Sebastian Meyer reports from northern Iraq.

Some information for this report came fron Reuters. VOA News' Edward Yeranian also contributed from Cairo, Egypt.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: harry from: australia
June 12, 2014 12:45 AM
Commenting on this easy.There is no easy solution either.Comes back to that point where an invasion changed a united stable nation because Bush and Cheney disliked Saddam.Whatever their intent the endgame is being played out.It doesnt look good for the entire region.Dont know if giving weapons will help.It might just end up in enemy hands.A soldier either fights or flees and they seem to be doing the latter.Massive air strikes might destroy their weapons and supplies and slow them down.Enough time for the Iraqis to regroup.America could not have stayed indefinitely propping up a weak govt operating on sectarian lines.Terrorists feed on weaknesses and divisions and ffwd we are at this point.Besides America just doesnt have unlimited funds to engage globally like it once did.Makes a mockery of Congress arguing over national debt when money is splurged on misadventures like Bush's Iraq War campaign.When we look back we realise that Gadaffi,Saddam and Mubarak were actually good for their respective nation's unity and security and of course regional peace.


by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
June 11, 2014 10:56 PM
Pakistani fighters are among militants. This is a very serious issue, why Pakistan involve its self in destruction of Iraq and killing of Iraqi peoples. There is serious doubts about Nawaz and Zardari capability to save Pakistan, then why they involve them self in this conflict. We suggest Pakistani Govt to concentrate on more on Pakistan side, development, safety and security for Poor Pakistani. Capture human killer and give them punishment. This is very serious allegation by some peoples that Nawaz and Zardari Govt in Pakistan is Main Sponsor of Terrorist group against Aid Money.


by: Billy Bob
June 11, 2014 9:18 PM
Wait, I'm confused. Aren't these the same rebels we are helping in Syria? So Syria: rebels good - Iraq: rebels bad.


by: Eric from: USA
June 11, 2014 7:26 PM
If we decide to help Iraq in any way shape or form it should be in the form of a 51st state. We have fought so hard to do what train a group of people that run away when faced with force. I say bring our troops in one more time last time make it a state or we should tell them good luck on your future. It was what is was it will become what you make it. And bring our troops home stop this side steeping and get to the point.


by: Scott Sinnock from: Woodstock IL
June 11, 2014 5:33 PM
Why are we offering help? Haven't we learned enough already of the death and destruction we cause by our "help"? It is THEIR civil war, let THEM fight it out, even if we think one side beats their women more than the other. Let's just trade with whoever wins, at whatever price they want to set, oil included, as Thomas Paine recommended these many years ago.

In Response

by: Mark from: Virginia
June 12, 2014 10:27 AM
Exactly. I agree fully. Many lessons of our own past, many ideas from our own history we have failed to learn. Too bad we did not fully listen to George Washington, either, and his ideas on how this country should be governed. Small government, limited international involvement.

We are the opposite of what our Founding Fathers have envisioned for us. Power does that. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.


by: charles robertson from: North Carolina
June 11, 2014 5:10 PM
once again our country is butting into every ones business. We give our money to everyone except the




american people. Protect our boarders!! with all the money we are giving away


by: What
June 11, 2014 5:06 PM
How about the Arab League does something? The UN? Anyone of these alphabet oganizations that say they are for stability in the region.


by: mike from: naples
June 11, 2014 5:03 PM
I read where the Iraqi forces who retreated outnumbered their aggressors 15 to 1 during the brief siege of Mosul, leaving behind their weapons and uniforms. Next I read that the President of Iraq is pleading for international assistance. That is some gall.


by: Steve from: USA
June 11, 2014 4:40 PM
Sooo, we pledging to fight the same rebels we are backing in Syria or is this a different group we're backing Iraq against like the ones attempting to destroy the deathstar? Its so hard to keep my rebel groups straight.


by: meanbill from: USA
June 11, 2014 10:13 AM
IF ONLY? -- If only the US, EU, and NATO countries hadn't interfered in the politics of the Islamic countries, like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, bringing violence, killings, destruction and wars, that's now spreading to other surrounding countries, the whole world would be a far safer place to live in, wouldn't it be?

IF ONLY?) -- If only the US, EU, and NATO countries interference had brought some kind of peace. -- (BUT?) -- the only things they brought was violence, death, destruction and wars, with millions of innocents homeless, starving, dying and being killed, by what the US, EU, and NATO countries brought upon them? --- (The US, EU, and NATO, are like (3) of the (4) Horsemen of the Apocalypse?). ...... REALLY

In Response

by: Goldingen from: Mittawa
June 11, 2014 1:44 PM
"I thought and still think that we then stirred up the anthill , which is now called international terrorism. Not only in Afghanistan, but also in the entire region. It was an irresponsible decision of the USSR leadership" (Boris Gromov,Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet army fought in Afghanistan). NATO is fighting against these "ants". I wonder, where to they start moving, if NATO leaves the region.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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