Author Archives: admin

ISIS Jihadist Threatens To Destroy Iraq’s Heritage

With the ISIS jihadists turning increasingly violent day – by – day, it has been a problem for the people of Iraq and Syria to protect their identity and heritage. Starting from women and child trafficking to sexual slavery, IS jihadists have done it all.

It is common knowledge that the ISIS jihadists treat other religions as something of less importance. However, recently, the ISIS militants have taken their fury on the opposing religious monuments and the shrines which are considered to be heritage by UNESCO.

Qais Hussain Rashid, director of Iraqi Museums was found speaking about the atrocities of IS jihadists on the monuments.

“They cut these reliefs and sell them to criminals and antique dealers,” he said, gesturing toward an ornate carving dating back to centuries. “Usually they cut off the head, leaving the legs, because the head is the valuable part.”

Rashid is particularly afraid of the monuments that are present in the captured city of Hatra. Established by the successor of Alexander the Great, Hatra carries a rich cultural heritage and has been known to withstand the Roman and the Persian Empire. With large number of architectural structures and thick heritage, the city reflects its own history and culture.

“There are palaces, temples and statues there, and ISIS is living among them,” Rashid said. “I’m afraid they’ll do something crazy there.”

The ISIS militants have also taken over the Mosul museum and have turned it into an office to collect the Jaziya tax, a tax which is levied on the non – Muslim population.

The Cultural agency of the UN has been alarmed at the news of such atrocities. UNESCO has said that the preservation of the Iraqi heritage in Hatra and other cities and museums will play a major role in ensuring undisrupted peace in the future.

“Protecting the lives of people, their cultural heritage and identity go hand in hand,” the agency’s director general, Irina Bokova, said. She also mentioned that UNESCO will mobilize the UN “and the whole international community to safeguard Iraq’s cultural heritage with particular emphasis on the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property.”

However, as the war is on, little can be done in the present scenario. Hence, the UN cannot take active steps to prevent the ruining of the age-old artifacts.

Although the city has withstood the barbarian attack of the Mongols, Rashid is not sure that it will survive the attack of ISIS militants.

“They are people from another planet,” he says. “They take pride in nothing. Their mentality is completely petrified. They don’t think of all this as the accomplishments of humanity.”

US and Iraq Plan Strategies For A Attack on ISIS Militants

The US and Iraq are drawing up a comprehensive action plan to put an end to the attacks of ISIS militants, according to a US senior official.

The plan, which is methodical and time consuming, will not be implemented for several months and is being drawn to prevent the Iraqi troops from over – exerting themselves. It may include US senior advisors with the Iraqis, should they be required in the situation. The US official who updated the reporters on the administrative strategies confirmed that the advisors will not actively take part in the war as President Obama has said that no ground forces from the US will be deployed on Iraqi soil.

With just a few exceptions, the Iraqi troops have concentrated its efforts to prevent ISIS militants from claiming additional territories since June this year. Despite the efforts of the Iraqi government and the US led coalition force, the IS jihadists still have control over one third of Iraqi, which stretches from Western Anbar province to the Syrian border and near Baghdad.

Recently, the President stated that his strategies for helping Iraq to fight off the jihadists include not only air attacks, but also training and advising the Iraqi militia men. These militia men are known to be afraid of the ISIS militants and flee when they were confronted by the ISIS jihadists.

Over the past few weeks, the global community has been anticipating the capture of Kobane by the ISIS militants, however, the airstrikes from the US led coalition force have stopped the advance of the ISIS jihadists to some extent.

Although the Syrian Kurds were politically at unease with the Iraqi population, they have agreed to accept the peshmerga fighters.

Presently, US led coalition forces are continuing with their airstrikes to aid the Iraqi troops in the endeavors. Last Wednesday, Ramadi was retrieved from the ISIS militants after repeatedly bombing the ISIS strongholds.

The US led coalition forces killed 25 ISIS jihadists this week as they check the group’s progress in the strategic points of Iraq.

Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in 2007 Iraq Shootings

Last Wednesday, a federal jury convicted four Blackwater guards for shooting 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The trial continued for 11 weeks with the convicted being charged with manslaughter, murder, and gun charges.

The defense attorney for the convicted claimed that the guards botched security and fired the weapons due to an out of control situation. However, the jurors rejected the claims of self-defense.

“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said U.S. Attorney for the District Ronald C. Machen Jr., “I pray that this verdict will bring some sense of comfort to the survivors of that massacre.”

Defense attorneys on the other hand, are stunned by the verdict and claim that the guards have been misjudged. “The verdict is wrong,” Schertler said. “We’re devastated. We’re going to fight this every step of the way.”

The jurors, which consisted of four men and eight women deliberated for 28 days before they came to an agreement on the sentence on Paul A. Slough,aged 35, from Keller, Texas (convicted for 13 manslaughters, and 17 attempted manslaughters), Nicholas A. Slatten aged 30 of Sparta, (convicted of murder), Evan S Liberty, aged 32, of Rochester, (convicted for 8 manslaughters and 12 attempted manslaughter) and Heard, aged 33 of Knoxville (convicted for 6 manslaughters and 11 attempted manslaughters).

Slough, in addition to Heard and Liberty was convicted of using military firearms while committing an act of felony. Slatten was sentenced with a mandatory life prison for murder. The remaining three were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The Nisour Square shooting, which the guards were convicted, was a massacre like the Abu Ghraib abuses and a low point in the Iraq US relationship. The shooting was reported to occur when the Blackwater guards responded to a car bombing. The Iraqi civilians were killed when the guards attacked the crowds using grenade launchers and machine guns.

The confirmation in the part of other Blackwater guards has been major evidence in this case along with the gathered shell casings by the State Department Officials.

“I’ve seen people completely unarmed, people doing nothing wrong, get shot,” Matthew Murphy, a former Blackwater contractor, testified. He called the Nisour Square shooting “the most horrible, botched thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Baghdad Mosque Attacked by Suicide Bomber

In a recent suicide attack on a Shia mosque, 18 people were killed in the Harthiyah area of Western Baghdad. The bomber exploded the bomb in a crowd that gathered for a funeral in the area.

In the recent weeks, numerous people have been killed in the suicide bombings in a similar nature. The attacks are being blamed on the IS jihadists although there is no confirmation from their end.

IS militants have been battling the past week to establish their stronghold in several parts of Syrian border. They came very close to capturing Kobane, which is a major town in the Turkish Syrian border, however, according to the Kurdish fighters; they have been unable to do so due to the resistance of Iraqi government force.

Recently, the Iraqi army has taken an active step to take hold of the city of Baiji, one of the biggest oil refineries within Iraq. However, the operation was aborted when a military van was ambushed by the IS jihadists.

“The attacker surprised our forces as he was driving a military armored vehicle. We thought it was our vehicle,” an army officer told.

Over the past months, IS jihadists have caused chaos within the entire region due to their attempt to create an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The situation has forced the population to flee from the country or fall victim to the attacks of the IS jihadists.

The US led coalition forces have been helping to curb the power of IS jihadists to some extent, yet they have not been totally successful in the endeavor.

Haider al – Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, who took office in September, met with Ali al – Sistani. “We have a long and hard mission ahead of us,” al-Abadi told reporters after emerging from the meeting with the cleric, who is believed to be 86 years old. “One of the missions is related to security. We need arms and we need to reconstruct our security forces.”

Al – Sistani lives in the Shite, in Najaf, which is located 100 miles south of Baghdad and rarely appears in public.

Recently in Karbala, four separate car bombs exploded taking lives of 26 people and injuring another 55. Medical officials have confirmed the causality figures.

The IS jihadists have captured fragments of Iraqi land and are carving out a state on both the sides of the Iraq and Syrian border. Since August of this year, US war planes have been carrying out airstrikes on the IS jihadists, but no major results have been obtained.

Iraqi MPs Approve New Changes In The Ministry

Mohammed Salem al – Ghabban is the newly appointed interior minister of Iraq while Khaled al – Obeidi was confirmed as the Minister of Defense.

In the present scenario with ISIS covering a large part of the country and having been making advancements despite the air strikes of US led coalition forces, the changes in ministry is of upmost importance.

Last Friday, a curfew was imposed on Ramadi amidst fierce fighting in the region.

In the latest situation, the vote by the Iraqi Members of Parliament has been seen as a great relief and a more inclusive cabinet is the first step in countering the attacks of the IS militants among the Sunni community in Iraq.

Rumors has it that the appointment of Mohammed Salem al – Ghabban as the interior minister of Iraq is a compromise after the Badr Organization, the Shia party he belongs to, put forward his name as a prospective candidate.

On the other hand, Khaled al – Obeidi, has a symbolic significance as he represents the Sunni Muslim community and is a leading politician from Mosul, which was among the first targets of ISIS militants.

Nouri al – Maliki, the previous Prime Minister of Iraq was forced to resign in August, as a result of the Kurdish communities and the Sunni Muslims having accused the government of pursuing secret policies.

A new government took its position on September 8, headed by the present Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Abadi, along with Sunni Muslims and Kurdish representatives as deputy ministers.

The forces of the Iraqi government are battling the forces of the IS jihadists near the capital of Anbar province, Ramadi and Tikrit which were captured by the IS militants earlier last month.

Capturing Anbar will be a major achievement for the IS militants because they will be able to establish a supply line and launch attacks as it is contains Iraq’s second largest dam, known as the Haditha dam.

Recently, the US led coalition forces have conducted 10 air strikes against IS jihadists in Iraq and 15 air strikes against IS in Syria which destroyed IS buildings, vehicles and oil facilities.

While all this was happening, the government of Iraq also appointed former Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as finance Minister. He is now the sixth Kurd to have achieved cabinet post.

UK Redeploys Armed Drones Against IS Militants

According to latest reports, UK drones which have been operating in Afghanistan will be redeployed to use against the IS militants.

The UK Defense Secretary has recently confirmed that the drones will be used to provide “surveillance report” to the US led coalition force and the Iraqi government.

In a written statement to MPs, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said: “As the UK’s only armed remotely piloted aircraft, Reaper will add to the strike capability we are already providing with our Tornado GR4 aircraft.”

Recently, Fallon was accused by Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, of being complacent as the IS militants have conquered the better part of Anbar province and have come close to conquering Kobane.

The statement was confirmed by Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, who also added that the UK was making a valuable contribution to the sophisticated surveillance and direct attacks in Iraq.

Hammond stated, “There will be tactical ebb and flow but the coalition air campaign has stabilized the strategic picture and the assessment of our experts is Baghdad is not at immediate danger.”

He also went on to say that, the government was “under no illusion as to the severity of this challenge to regional stability and to our homeland security.”

“Liberating this territory from Isil is a medium-term challenge to be measured in months and years, not days and weeks. The horrific effects of Isil on governance and the social fabric will be felt for even longer,” Hammond was reported saying.

On the other hand, Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader said, “I personally find it increasingly difficult to justify the distinction in our policy between Iraq and Syria.”

“If the town of Kobane is to fall, then the outcome for its inhabitants based on previous experience could be apocalyptic.”

“In those circumstances, is there not now a case for the United Kingdom to join in the air operations in Syria under the authority of the right of humanitarian intervention? But perhaps more pertinently, under the authority of the duty to protect.”

The IS jihadist have been fighting the US led coalition force since September. However, the use of the drones have been met with severe criticism from the Human Rights group. Amnesty International has suggested that the strikes may be categorized as war crimes as they create a strong public backlash in the countries where they are being deployed.

Australians Warned About Moving Out of Iraq

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have now warned Australians not to travel to Iraq. As for the Australians who are presently situated in Iraq, they have been warned to leave the country immediately while the Baghdad airport is accessible for commercial flights.

“Australians in Iraq, including in Iraqi Kurdistan, should depart immediately while commercial flights continue to operate and airports in Baghdad and Erbil remain open,” DFAT warned.

“We advise against travel to all of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan,” it said.

According to DFAT reports, 181 Australians are registered to be present in Iraq and more are working or living without registrations.

Defense Official Peter Jennings, who also heads the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the advisory panel for the government’s defense white paper, stated that the IS jihadists have infiltrated Abu Ghraib and have also captured a large portion of the Anbar province. That said, there is a decent chance that the Baghdad Airport will soon be targeted with mortar bombs.

According to the acting Chief of Defense force, Ray Griggs, Baghdad might soon fall in the clutches of IS militants.

“People have been saying that Baghdad could be falling within a week for about three months … my understanding is it’s stable in terms of movements,” he told ABC Radio. “And in key parts of the area, the Iraqi security forces are holding their own.”

Recent reports have stated that the diplomatic staffs in Iraq have been reduced to a minimum and consular help for Australian citizens is no longer available in Iraq.

“We will retain a diplomatic presence in Baghdad, but the embassy will remain closed to the public until further notice,” DFAT said.

“Consular assistance is no longer available within Iraq.

“Given the extremely dangerous security situation, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us so we can contact you in an emergency.”

DFAT also mentioned that the security in Iraq has deteriorated since the past months.

“Armed opposition groups are now active in many parts of Iraq, including in Iraqi Kurdistan,” it said. “The situation could deteriorate further with little warning. The US-led coalition, including Australia, has conducted targeted air strikes against militants in Iraq.”

Although some flights have been cancelled from Irbil and Baghdad International Airports, most international flights remain active. However, some international carriers have suspended operations in and out of Irbil.

Turkish Jets Target Kurdish Rebels Near Iraq

Breaking News: Turkish Fighter Jets (F – 4’s and F – 16’s) have bombed the Kurdish rebels near the Iraqi border. The air strikes were said to be a response to the PKK gunfire in the military outpost.

It has been said that the Kurds were furious at the Turkish government due to their apathetic attitude of the IS’ attacks on the Turkish border and towns within Syria.

Several fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party were known to aid the Kudish YPG military in Kobane. Turkey has refused to help the Syria military forces with any aid or allow the Kurdish fighters to enter Syria.

“Today there were air strikes throughout the day, which is a first. And sometimes we saw one plane carrying out two strikes, dropping two bombs at a time,” said Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist with a local Kurdish paper.

Most recently, two commandeers of the PKK were arrested by the Turkish troops when they arrived for medical treatment in a hospital in the south – eastern region of Turkey.

In addition to these commandeers, more than 260 YPG military men were arrested when they crossed into the Turkey border last week. Out of those 260, 60 were allowed to go back according to Turkish media.

On last Tuesday, French President has appealed to the Ankara government to open the border as the US led air strikes continue in both Iraq and Syria.

The airstrikes on the Kurdish rebels were reported to cause heavy causalities. The air strikes were followed by an assault on the military outpost of Turkish government led troops by PKK fighters.

It is to be noted that last week, the Kurdish protests have claimed at least 31 lives as Kurds expressed their anger on Turkey’s apathetic nature on the capture of Kobane and the loss of lives in Iraq and Syria.

The city of Kobane has had a strong media presence within the recent few weeks. At this point, the US led coalition forces have led 21 air strikes over the past two days to destroy the stronghold of the IS militants within this town.

Notably, Turkey has been reluctant to aid the US led coalition attack from the beginning and have refused to join them. However, yesterday, in a surprise move, the Turkish government denied the access of its air bases to the US led coalition forces against the IS jihadist.

According to the Turkish government, it was an attempt to remove the possibility of Syrian and Turkish Kurd fighters fighting against the IS jihadists for a foundation of an independent Islamic state.

Iraq Troops Move Away From The Heet

The troops of Iraqi that were stationed on the borders of Heet, in the Anbar province, have withdrawn and are now leaving the city under complete control of IS jihadists.

According to reports, ISIS jihadists have seized the border of the western side of Euphrates and now have control of that territory.

“Iraqi forces evacuated Heet training camp last night (Sunday) on the orders of the military command,” a senior police official in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, stated.

“Our military leaders argued that instead of leaving those forces exposed to attacks by ISIS, they would be best used to shore up the defense of Asad air base,” he said.

Ahmed Hamid, the head of Anbar provincial council’s security committee, reported that about 300 members of the government led Iraqi troops moved out of the Heet Training Academy to a few kilometers northwest of the city.

According to several security officials, after the shift of the initial troops military aircrafts were sent to the location to retrieve the high ranked officials that were left behind. ISIS militants then took over what was left of the government camp on Monday morning.

“Heet is now 100 percent under ISIS-control,” the police colonel said.

It is to be noted that the Iraq government led troops have faced a major setback in Anbar due to the position of troops in the recent week. The security officials have even warned that the grip on Ramadi was weakening and they will not be able to hold ISIS off for much longer.

On a different development, the United Nation has started cutting off the food aid they have been providing because of the shortfall in their funding.

“Yes, we have already started … this month, to cut supplies to the 4.2 million Syrians inside the country who have been receiving food aid,” the World Food Program’s assistant executive director Elisabeth Rasmusson told AFP.

“We decided that because of the funding shortfall, we will provide food to everybody but its cut down to 60 percent of the normal [food] basket,” she said.

“WFP budget projections for 2014 were $4.3 billion. Now, the needs are $8.5 billion,” said Rasmusson, adding that “the funding needs for the Middle East have at least doubled to around $4 billion,” with Syria accounting for half of the amount.

According to Rasmusson, the UN and WFP are working tirelessly to find willing donor countries and private sector donations because of the current lack of adequate funding.

Death Toll In Syria Crosses 500

The death toll has reached at least 553 people who have died over the month of fighting against the IS militants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have confirmed 298 IS jihadists have also died in the process.

The US led coalition force has been bombing IS strongholds over the past month as the Kurdish fighters have protected Kobane’s border connecting to Turkey.

However, the defenders are left without proper ammunition on the ground which is hurting their chances of winning this battle.

“The supply of fighters is very good…” Kobane official Idris Nassan stated, “But fighters coming without arms, without weaponry, is not going to make a critical difference.”

Although the Turkish border is under threat, the Turkish administration has recently ruled out the unilateral ground intervention on the land. Many suggest that this is because of the conflict of the Turkish government with its Kurdish population.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the true figure of the death toll can be more than 1,100 since the beginning of attack on the IS militants on September 16.

Of the deaths, which are accountable, 226 are Kurdish fighters, and 9 are Syrian opposition fighters who were supporting the forces.

Of the 20 civilian deaths, 17 were victims of IS execution, according to the Syrian Observatory.

Other than these casualties, other deaths have occurred due to the bombing of IS jihadists in Baghdad. Reports from several sources suggest that at least 38 people were killed in the recent bomb attacks in the city.

In the most recent suicide bombing, 14 people were killed in Meshahda alone.

Aircrafts from the US led coalition attack have been not only bombing the IS strongholds, but also have dropped supplies to Iraqi government troops located in Baiji, near Iraq’s biggest refineries.

According to the Pentagon, US air strikes on IS targets at Kobane on Friday have hit an IS fighting position; damaged a command and control facility; destroyed a staging building; struck two small units of fighters; and destroyed three lorries.

Idris Nassan, deputy foreign minister of Kobane district, said that the air strikes of the US led coalition forces were not of much help.

“A few days ago, [IS] attacked with a Humvee vehicle, they use mortars, cannons, tanks,” he said. “We don’t need just Kalashnikovs and bullets. We need something effective since they captured many tanks and military vehicles in Iraq.”