News / Middle East

Iraq Militants Threaten Move on Baghdad

ISIS Takeover in Mosul Displaces Thousandsi
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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.
Watch related video report by VOA's Sebastian Meyer.
Edward Yeranian
Islamist militants have advanced toward Baghdad after seizing control of more territory just 90 kilometers, or 56 miles, north of the Iraqi capital.

In lightning-quick strikes in recent days, fighters from the Sunni Muslim Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have captured most of the northern reaches of the country. In the latest attack, the militants took the town of Dhuluiyah.

A spokesman for the rebels, who are seeking to install an Islamic government, vowed they would push into Baghdad and on to Karbala, a city southwest of Baghdad that is one of the holiest sites for Shi'ite Muslims.
 
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

A spokesman for the rebel group, an offshoot of al-Qaida, vowed they would push on to Baghdad and then Karbala, a city that is home to one of the holiest sites for Shi'ite Muslims.

Al-Jazeera reported the ISIL was marching toward Sammara, home to one of the most venerated Shi'ite places of worship in Iraq.

The militants have seized several other key cities in a blow to Iraq's Shi'ite-led government.

In another development, Iraqi officials said Kurdish forces have taken control of the disputed northern city of Kirkuk. The city is in an area that Kurds want to incorporate into their autonomous region, against the central government's wishes.

"The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga," said Jabbar Yawar, a spokesman, referring to the Kurdish forces. "No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now."

Yawar told Iraqi satellite channels that government soldiers had abandoned 300,000 to 400,000 weapons and a number of planes when they withdrew from Iraq's Mosul, which the militants seized Tuesday.

In Mosul, the ISIL staged a parade of American Humvees seized from the collapsing Iraqi army.
 
Two helicopters, also seized by the militants, flew overhead, witnesses said, according to a report by Reuters. It apparently was the first time the militant group has obtained aircraft in years of waging insurgency on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier.
 
The Iraqi air force bombed insurgent positions in and around the northern city of Mosul on Thursday, footage aired on state television showed.

U.N. Security Council addresses crisis

The U.N. Security Council discussed the situation in Iraq during a session Thursday. Ahead of the meeting, it issued a statement strongly criticizing the ISIL militants for their attack on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin, heading the 15-member council for the month of June, said it "strongly condemned all terrorist and extremist acts" and offered its unanimous support for Iraqis in the fight against terrorism. He added that council members also stressed the importance of "inclusive national dialogue" in rebuilding Iraq's government.
 
The members said "no act of violence or terrorism" can reverse Iraq's path toward peace and democracy. 

 
  • This image from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting ISIL, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting ISIL, shows militants at the Al-Sharqat base north of Tikrit, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • Kurdish police stand guard while refugees from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region outside Irbil, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • A refugee from Mosul stands outside her family's tent at Khazir refugee camp outside Irbil, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • Iraqi security forces head to Baghdad on the main road between Baghdad and Mosul, a day after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of much of Mosul, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • Iraqi security forces leave a military base as Kurdish forces take over control in Kirkuk, Iraq, June 11, 2014.
  • A burnt vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces is seen on a road one day after insurgents seized control of the city of Mosul, June 10, 2014.
  • Damaged vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces are seen during clashes between Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Mosul, Iraq, June 10, 2014.

US considers options

The United States is also weighing how to help Iraq counter the surge by the militants who now control Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah.
 
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one in a range of options under consideration is whether to send drones to Iraq.
 
White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. will continue giving Iraq "all appropriate assistance" to fight the al-Qaida offshoot ISIL, but did not give details of specific aid.
 
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also declined to give specifics, but said the U.S. is working with Iraqi leaders on a coordinated response. She also highlighted expedited shipments of military equipment to Iraq earlier this year, as well as increased training of Iraqi security forces.

Americans evacuated

Amid rising security concerns, Americans working in Iraq were being temporarily evacuated by their companies Thursday, the State Department told VOA. Fox News had reported that “three planeloads” of Americans, mostly military contractors and civilians, were being cleared from a base in Balad. One of the largest training missions in Iraq, Balad lies 93 kilometers, or 58 miles, northwest of Baghdad.  
 
The State Department has no record of the number of Americans living and working in Iraq, a spokesman said. He added that there has been no change in staffing at the U.S. Embassy and consulates.

Germany's foreign ministry urged its citizens to temporarily leave parts of Iraq, including the capital and the governorates of Anbar, Ninevah and Salah al-Din, the Associated Press reported.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that unrest threatens Iraq's territorial integrity, Reuters reported, citing the Interfax news agency.

"We are concerned about what's happening in Iraq," Lavrov said. "The [territorial] integrity of Iraq is in question."

Maliki urges residents to retake Mosul
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
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Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ninevah Provincial Governor Athil Nujeifi called on residents to fight to retake Mosul.
 
Maliki blasted Iraqi military officials who deserted their posts and fled Mosul, claiming in a speech Wednesday that they were part of a plot.

Also Thursday, the Iraqi government had been seeking extraordinary powers to deal with militants from the ISIL. But an urgent parliament session to impose a state of emergency was canceled due to a lack of a quorum.
 
Shi'ite deputy speaker of parliament Khaled al-Attiyah said the government will now seek the approval of Iraq's Federal Court for the state of emergency measures that it needs due to the current crisis.
          
ISIL said in a statement it was now advancing on Baghdad.
 
The International Organization for Migration said the fighting there caused 500,000 people to flee their homes.
 
Iraq is dealing with its worst violence since 2008, with the U.N. saying that about 4,500 people have been killed this year. More than 900 of the deaths came last month.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
June 12, 2014 2:53 PM
save people civilian the Iraq EU and USA

by: Mrs. Jock Burnfart from: Location
June 12, 2014 11:18 AM
It appears that the best diversion from Obama’s latest bevy of scandals, including the VA snafu and the Bergdahl fiasco, will be yet another war, one which Iraq just gave the green light for. As the WSJ reported moments ago, Iraq has privately signaled to the Obama administration that it would allow the U.S. to conduct airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft against al Qaeda militant targets on Iraqi territory, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The Obama administration is considering a number of options, including the possibility of providing “kinetic support” for the Iraqi military fighting al Qaeda rebels who seized two major cities north of Baghdad this week, according to a senior U.S. official who added that no decisions have been made. Officials declined to say whether the U.S. would consider conducting airstrikes with drones or manned aircraft. Wait, so the US is now the world’s largest mercenary army, doing the bidding of defenseless, third-world governments (which just happen to be drowning in crude)?

Iraq has long asked the U.S. to provide it with drones that could be used in such strikes, but Washington has balked at supplying them, officials said.
Until now. And just like that the war in Iraq, “Bush’s war” according to so many, is about to come back with a vengeance this time under Nobel peace prize winning president, and what makes it most grotesque is that this time the US will be waging combat with at a military force that it itself is training and arming in neighboring Syria. Which of course is good news for the military-industrial complex and US Q3 GDP, if not so good for millions of innocent civilians soon to be known as “collateral damage.”

by: meanbill from: USA
June 12, 2014 10:34 AM
"Where others see defeat, others see victory" (and) "When the enemy has overestimated their strength, and the battles that they won, and overextended their troops and supplies, (ONLY THEN), will the opposing wise leader (Maliki) counter-attack them, and be assured of a guaranteed victory" -- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu?

by: meanbill from: USA
June 12, 2014 9:36 AM
MY OPINION? --- The (ISIL) terrorists had to reach the limits of their supply lines, and the only way they can be resupplied with more arms and ammunitions, is by the US, EU, NATO, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, resupplying them. -- (AND?) -- the (ISIL) terrorists must have overextended their manpower, and now have reached their extreme limits -- (AND NOW?) -- the (ISIL) terrorists are stretched thinly to the maximum, and it's a guaranteed victory for an Iraqi counter-attack.

by: Hovhannes from: Montevideo
June 12, 2014 6:59 AM
They must be kidding. Do Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ninevah Provincial Governor Athil Nujeifi want the civilians to fight with their bare hands against the terrorists? Maybe they don't mind a few hours ago their well trained and armed soldiers deserted their posts and fled Mosul without fighting.

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