News / Middle East

Militants Reportedly Seize Northern Iraqi Town

Tal Afar, about 70km west of Mosul, Iraq
Tal Afar, about 70km west of Mosul, Iraq
VOA News
Residents and local Iraqi officials say Sunni militants have seized the northern city of Tal Afar, the latest capture in a surge of fighting that has resulted in international condemnation and calls for unity in Iraq.
 
The seizure early Monday comes after a week in which militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Mosul and Tikrit and threatened to advance on Baghdad.

US diplomatic effort

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not rule out military cooperation with Tehran Monday as a way to "hold Iraq together."

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations in more than three decades. The U.S. and its Western allies are locked in negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program. But Kerry told Yahoo News that the U.S. is "open to any constructive process" to curb the violence in Iraq and eliminate "outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart."

Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns is in Geneva for the resumption of the nuclear talks with Iran on Tuesday. Officials say discussions could also be held about the rapid advance of the militants in Iraq and how to combat it.

The U.S. is considering air strikes, including drones, against the militants, who seek to impose an Islamic-based government extending from eastern Syria into western Iraq and beyond. The Shi'ite-controlled Iranian government has condemned the onslaught of the Sunni militants in neighboring Iraq.

Kerry says President Barack Obama is giving "a very thorough vetting of every option that is available" to support the Iraqi government.

The U.S., however, has ruled out sending in ground troops.

US boosts embassy security

The United States is adding about 100 soldiers and Marines to boost security at its embassy in Baghdad, while relocating some non-essential staff to sites in Basrah, Irbil and Amman, and Jordan. A U.S. aircraft carrier has been deployed to the Persian Gulf.
 
A senior State Department official said Sunday that Kerry spoke with his counterparts from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates about the need to support the people of Iraq and Syria against the threat of ISIL. The official said the ministers also talked about the need for Iraq's leaders to implement a "coordinated and effective approach" to move the country forward.
 
Executions
 
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
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also stressed the need for political and social measures and an "inclusive national security plan" to address the security threat. He again condemned the violence by ISIL, including what his spokesman called "deeply disturbing" reports of summary executions by the militants.
 
Pictures the militants posted Sunday on the Internet appear to show fighters executing a group of Iraqi soldiers.
 
Some of the victims are seen crouching with weapons aimed directly at their heads. The authenticity of the photographs cannot be verified.
 
Maliki fights back

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's security spokesman, Lieutenant General Qassem Atta, told reporters Sunday that Iraqi forces had "regained the initiative" in their fight against Sunni militants and had killed 279 terrorists since Saturday.
 
The government's claim and casualty numbers are hard to verify, but Iraqi forces and Shi'ite volunteers are starting to regroup and bolster their defenses, especially around Baghdad.
 
Many government fighters abandoned their positions and left their weapons and vehicles behind last week as the militants seized territory in the north.
 
  • 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.

NATO calls for release of Turks

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Monday for the immediate release of Turkish diplomatic and security staff held by insurgents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
 
Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) kidnapped 49 Turks, including special forces soldiers, diplomats and children, from the Turkish consulate on Wednesday as they overran Mosul.
 
“We follow the dangerous developments in Iraq with great concern. I condemn the unacceptable attack on the consulate general in Mosul,” Rasmussen said during a visit to Ankara, standing beside Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
 
“We want to see all of the Turkish hostages released and we want to see them safe,” he said.
 
The ISIL offensive threatens to dismember Iraq and leaves Turkey, a NATO member, facing a widening Islamist insurgency in two of its southern neighbors, with ISIL also making territorial gains in Syria near the Turkish border.
 
Ankara has the second largest armed forces in the NATO military alliance after the United States. It is hosting six NATO Patriot missile batteries meant to defend it against any attacks from Syria.
 
The diplomats and soldiers trapped inside the Mosul consulate had no option but to surrender after hundreds of heavily-armed Islamist militants surrounded the building, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
 
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said the hostages are unharmed and that all efforts are being made to secure their release, as well as a second group of 31 Turkish truck drivers also captured by ISIL last week.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said on CNN that the United States has to bring Iraqi Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds together in unified fashion to confront a common threat.

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: LieutenantCharlie from: USA
June 16, 2014 3:58 PM
The Creator of all of these Failures, is the Greatest Enemy America has ever faced,.......because he lives in the White House.

by: Been there 2x from: Everywhere
June 16, 2014 3:57 PM
Honestly who cares? They have been fighting each other for 10000 plus years. Nothing will make them stop. Been there for the evasion and again in 09. Let them kill each other off. With the men killing each other...sooner or later they won't be able to breed. They are a uneducated society. Its ashame that region is rich in history and is the cradle of civilization.

by: James from: USA
June 16, 2014 3:46 PM
Are you censoring the comments on this article to only reflect what you want said in response?

by: Jame from: usa
June 16, 2014 3:38 PM
I am so tired of middle east conflict. Guess what? The Muslims are fighting each other and the Jews are in conflict with the Palestinians. I list my Dad because of these conflicts and we live half a world away. I hope we can finally get rid of dependence on foreign oil and we can just leave these people alone and let them fight it out, without requiring the US to spend tons of money and lives on issues most of us could not care less about.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta Nigeria
June 16, 2014 8:50 AM
Why the US sits down to discourse with some of the states sponsoring the ISIL I just wonder how the intelligent never saw all this come and now scrambling to be ready, who actually cares what's going on in eastern Ukraine?

by: Fred Flintsone
June 16, 2014 7:35 AM
The $500M cash +gold they seized from the Mosul central bank + all the armament the 4 "Iraqi" divisions that surrendered left them was a pretty good haul also for them
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 16, 2014 10:34 AM
WHAT did you expect from the (US trained Security Forces) that took off their uniforms in the streets, and walked off without firing a shot? -- They were trained by the US, weren't they?

by: jmmy from: Michigan
June 16, 2014 5:12 AM
No need to get involved libertarianism lives and is the future

by: Mohammed Sohail from: Birmingham
June 16, 2014 5:07 AM
A unified Iraq was destroyed by the International Community in order to benefit themselves; pitting one community against another. It is grossly hypocritical of them to now condemn what they caused and call for unity in Iraq. It is obvious to all sane people that a war anywhere in the world will benefit the manufacturers of the weapons of war, which just so happen to be the very nations that started the war warmongering. The value of human life has become very cheap, usually chalked up by world powers and military generals as collateral damage. But this 'collateral damage' reaps its own consequences, as we are witnessing in Afghanistan and Iraq to name just two places in our purposely destabilised world.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 16, 2014 10:29 AM
REMEMBER? -- When the US Presidents "quote" said; -- "Saddam and his sons are dead, and the world is a safer place" -- (and?) -- "Qaddafi and his sons are dead, and the world is a safer place" -- (And best of all?) -- "Bin Laden is dead, and the world is a safer place" -- (and the craziest one of all?) -- Al-Qaeda is on the run, and their leadership has been decimated"

CRAZY ISN'T IT? -- (US Presidents did "quote" say these things, (and they did promise the world), it was a safer place, didn't they?) ---- (Just don't live in one of these non-European Union countries, like Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, or now Ukraine, where the US, EU, and NATO countries politically interfered in?)

by: rajkumar from: chennai
June 16, 2014 4:47 AM
if what ryan crocor said becomes true then common enemy will be US.dont be so optimistic.Natural justice takes its course.but iam sad for what's happening there.
In Response

by: yalchin from: canada
June 16, 2014 7:07 AM
Some of the victims are seen crouching with weapons aimed directly at their heads. The authenticity of the photographs cannot be verified.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's security spokesman, Lieutenant General Qassem Atta, told reporters Sunday that Iraqi forces had "regained the initiative" in their fight against Sunni militants and had killed 279 terrorists since Saturday.

The government's claim and casualty numbers are hard to verify, but Iraqi forces and Shi'ite volunteers are starting to regroup and bolster their defenses, especially around Baghdad.

Many government fighters abandoned their positions and left their weapons and vehicles behind last week as the militants seized territory in the north.

President Barack Obama says no American forces will sent back into Iraq, but he has not ruled out any other action, including air strikes.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told domestic television networks Sunday that the U.S. may have to cooperate with Iran to help prevent Baghdad from falling.

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