Category Archives: Iraq News

British Troops March Back to Iraq to Help Defeat IS

British Troops Back In Iraq

The Ministry of Defense to has sent a small specialist team too work near the front lines aiding in the battle between the IS militants and the Kurdish fighters. The soldiers are from the second battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment based out of Cyprus. They are presently based near Irbil, and are training the Peshmerga forces in the heavy machinery supplied by the UK.

According to a Ministry of Defense representative, “The Government has previously made clear its intention to provide training to the Peshmerga as part of the continued effort to assist in the fight against Isil (IS).”

“The Defense Secretary has approved the deployment of a small specialist team of non-combat Army trainers which is now in the Irbil area providing instruction on operating, employing and maintaining the heavy machine guns that were gifted by the UK last month”, she went on to say.

Notably, Britain gifted £1.6 billion of arms including heavy machinery and a half of a million worth of ammunition to the Kurdish forces fighting the IS militants. Kurdish troops have also confirmed that the British SAS troops are helping them to help drive away the IS jihadist from their strongholds.

It is to be noted that the last British troop which was sent to support the Iraq forces during the capture of former president Saddam Hussain, left in April 2009. That being said, a small number of the troops did stay behind to train the Iraqi forces till 2011.

For the past two weeks, the British RAF Tornados have struck several bases of the IS militants. However, according to several confirmed sources, the Turkish President is not happy with the air attacks led by the US coalition force. He has stated publicly (along with Idris Nassan) that the air strikes have failed to have an effect on the IS militants.

Kobane official Idris Nassan was found saying that “the supply of fighters is very good”. “But fighters coming without arms, without weaponry, is not going to make a critical difference,” he added.

The war, which has been going on since September 16, has claimed the lives of 553 people in a span of 30 days. The total death toll is now over 1000 people in the past couple of months.

Iraq’s Army Back on Track on Its Fight Against ISIS

According to the Turkish President, air strikes may not be enough to drive away the IS jihadis, yet in parts of Iraq and Syria, the battle against IS jihadis is producing the desired result.

In a recent interview on television last Tuesday, Turkish President Erdogan was found saying, “I am telling the West, that dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution.”

Iraqi ArmyThe army is being equipped with weapons to suit the demands of the situation, and plans are in work to create a strong National Guard, which will strengthen Iraq’s defenses against the IS.

Although the town of Kobane is still in the clutches of IS jihadis, the Iraqi army is confident that they will be able to take back the town from the militants. However, according to the US military, there are thin chances of bringing back Kobane.

“We don’t have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby said on Wednesday.

However, according to Kurdish officials, effective airstrikes against IS militants on target can bring back the control of Kobane and surrounding areas. Aysa Abdullah, a co – leader of Kurdish Democratic Union Party mentioned that they were ready to work with the US led coalition force to bring back the control of Kobane.

“We have provided coalition forces with the coordinates of IS targets on the ground and are willing to continue providing any help they will request,” she said.

On the other hand, Meysa Abdo, a female Kurdish commander stated, “If the coalition is serious about degrading IS, then Kobane is where they should target them because they have an effective partner on the ground which has successfully fought back against IS alone.” However, she also went on to say that the remaining civilians were at risk of being hurt by the attacks of US led coalition force.

Adding to this, a guerrilla commander who was in charge of leading troops against IS jihadis told stated they applied various tactics including, but not restricted to infiltrating the enemy camp and fighting with light weapons. “We are better experienced than IS, but you need to have heavy weapons in order to defend a city.” he said.

In the meantime, the Turkish President has been trying to find a plausible excuse for the inactivity of Turkey in the war. “For us, the PKK and Isil are the same,” said President Erdogan this week. “It is wrong to consider them as different from each other.”

Turkish President Speaks About Justice in Syria and Iraq

Turkish President ErdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed last Friday that the violence in the two neighboring lands of Turkey has caused a “highly sensitive” and unrest situation within the region.

In a conference held in the Black Sea coast of Turkey, Erdogan said, “Turkey has not taken sides in the conflicts surrounding the country and is neither against any sect or ethnicity, nor with them. Our side is always that of peace and dialogue.”

He also went on to say that in the context of this situation, Turkey has taken precaution against the outlawed terrorist organization and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, as they are a threat to the state.

According to reports, last Thursday, six people were killed in Bingol, which included two police officers. Erdogan sent condolence messages to the families of the victims. “Our security forces killed some terrorists and police operations continue to arrest the others responsible,” he said.

Erdogan also expressed his outrage at the increase in death toll due to pro – Kurdish protest in and around Turkey. Since the protestors accused the government of inaction against IS jihadis in Iraq, Erdogan mentioned that they were responsible of causing unrest in Turkey. Its important to notw though that the protests occurred after the IS militants tried occupying the town.

The Turkish government has been criticized by several individuals over their apathetic attitude to the IS militants and the civil war being faced by its neighborhood.

In a recent UN conference, he had cited the death of more than 200,000 Syrian citizens and also asked about the purpose of the United Nations if the body does not act in moments of crisis.

“The global conscience is aware that those ruthlessly criticizing some countries for lack of freedom of press ignore the 16 journalists who were killed in Palestine and the pressure on the media members,” Erdogan said.

Joe Biden has apologized to the Turkish president for his recent comments about him, which very well may be the result of Erdogan’s comment: “I have never said to (Biden) that we had made a mistake, never. If he did say this…, then he has to apologize to us.” “Foreign fighters have never entered Syria from our country. They may come to our country as tourists and cross into Syria, but no one can say that they cross in with their arms.”

The Turkish President has laid claims that Turkey has prevented 6,000 suspected militants from entering the country and 1,000 jihadis from leaving.

Obama Set to Visit the Pentagon after Two months of Airstrikes against ISIS

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, two months will have passed since the US airstrikes began in Iraq against IS jihadis. More than 260 strikes have been launched in the past two months and the attacks have increased since September 23.

Obama Visits PentagonAccording to several sources, President Obama will be visiting the Pentagon on Wednesday to receive an update on the military campaign of the US led coalition force against the ISIS. The President is also scheduled to meet the National Security Council and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs. In a recent attempt to curb the militants, the US led coalition forces have stepped up the airstrikes in and around Kobane. However, it is still uncertain if it will be enough to stop the progress of the jihadis.

It has been reported that Washington is concerned with the reluctance of Turkey to engage the jihadis of Islamic State in Kobane. “There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre less than a mile from is border,” an unnamed senior administration official was quoted as saying.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has spoken to Ahmet Davutoglu twice regarding Turkey’s reluctance to take part in the military operations, according to State Department representative Jen Psaki .

“Turkey is determining what larger role they will play going forward and that conversation is ongoing,” Psaki said. “They have indicated their openness to doing that, so there is an active conversation about that.”

According to reports by several officials stationed in the area, the jihadis of the Islamic State are close to taking control of the town of Kobane from the defending Kurdish People’s protection Units.

NATO“After all the fulminating about Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe, [Turkey is] inventing reasons not to act to avoid another catastrophe,” the official said. “This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s through from their border.”

On the other hand, Canadian Parliament passed a motion last Tuesday to authorize Air strikes in Iraq for the next six months following a request from the United States. However, the military aid from Canada will not contain any ground troops for combat operations. The mission will be known to include six CF – 18 jet airplanes, 2 surveillance planes, a refueling aircraft and 1 airlift aircraft. The mission will include 600 military personnel.

Six Airstrikes Target IS Militants Near Kobane

According to recent reports, six airstrikes were made targeting the IS militants near Kobane on October, 8th which killing 14 militants. However, reports suggest that at 1:20 PM local time IS militants shot down an Iraqi helicopter killing the two pilots who were onboard. This attack has raised concern over the IS militant’s ability to attack and destroy aircrafts in lieu of the ongoing attack by the US led coalition force.

According to Iraqi officials who were present during the attack, a shoulder – fired missile was used to take down the Iraqi Bell 407 helicopter. The helicopter crashed in a refinery in the north of Beiji, which is located approximately 200 kilometers from Baghdad. A defense ministry official confirmed the fact that both the pilots were unable to survive the attack.

Notably, this is the second attack by the IS militants on Iraqi helicopters over Beiji in a week. Previously, the IS militants shot down a M -35 helicopter last Friday near Beiji, once again killing both the pilots on board during the attack.

Additionally, US led coalition force airstrikes pushed the IS militants back from the town of Kobane, the area which the militants gained access to after three weeks of assault.

“They are now outside the entrances of the city of Kobani. The shelling and bombardment was very effective and as a result of it, IS have been pushed from many positions,” deputy Foreign Minister, Idris Nassan was found saying.

Nassan also said, “This is their biggest retreat since their entry into the city and we can consider this as the beginning of the countdown of their retreat from the area.”

According to a breaking news report, Washington is worried over Turkey’s reluctance in aiding the coalition forces and engage the IS militants in Kobane. “There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre less than a mile from is border,” an unnamed senior administration official was quoted as saying. “After all the fulminating about Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe, [Turkey is] inventing reasons not to act to avoid another catastrophe,” the official said. “This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s through from their border.”

Reports claim that Iran and the major powers will hold multilateral nuclear talks in Vienna. “I think that we will have bilateral and multilateral talks before the end of the next week in Vienna,” ministry representative Marzieh Afkham said when asked when Iran and its negotiating partners would next meet.

Australia To Step In The Fight Against IS Militants

Australian Special Forces have been granted permission to aid the local troops and start their mission of driving the IS militants out of their stronghold in cities and towns.

According to several sources, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot will be announcing that the problem with the Iraqi government has been solved on Tuesday. This points towards the fact that the Australian troops are now free to “advise and assist” the Iraqis.

As the RAAF missions began, it was acknowledged by Minister of Defence David Johnston that the IS militants were accustomed to the air strikes. “I think that’s pretty certain that they will adapt very quickly not to be out in the open where the Iraqi security forces can call in an air strike,” he said.

Although the air strikes were made were less on fixed targets and more in favor and support of the Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the ground, Senator Johnston has said that this will be harder in the major strongholds of Islamic State like Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi. “I think it was always going to be … that the Iraqi security forces would have to step up and go into these towns and clean them out,” said Johnston.

Marshal Geoff Shepherd, the former Chief of Air Force has said that it would be prudent for the military to melt with the population. “At the start of their campaigns, they were massing as a military force … but they’re smart enough now to melt back into the population and it will be more difficult to contain them by air power alone.” However, he also warned that this would increase the causalities among civilians. “We’re not going to win this just by bombing. We’re going to win it by challenging their ideology and their view of the world, and every time we kill an innocent civilian … that drives people into the arms of jihadis.” Geoff was reported saying.

Idris Nassan, a senior spokesperson of Kurdish military also laid claim to the fact that the IS militants were adopting to the air strikes far better than what was expected of them. “Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat ISIS in Kobani,” said Nassan. “Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”

According to latest reports, 200 Australian Special Forces soldiers will be working in Iraq, assisting the local troops on the ground.

MPs Debate The Combat Role of UK In Iraq

In a recent happening, the Conservatives offered additional aid for the battle against IS militants on Monday. Foreign Affairs Minister of the UK, John Baird, has pledged to provide a support of $10 million for treatment and services to Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have been victims of the war. Moreover, Baird also made an announcement regarding the joint UK Canada mission for assessment of Iraqi victims and what can be done to provide them solace in the present times.

The NDP leader, Tom Mulcair on the other hand has taken active steps to the Iraqi motion of the government. The biggest amendment in the NDP is to block the Canadian troops from attacking any part of Iraq. In addition, it has also prevented the transportation of weapons for three months but requires permission from the House before extending the mission.

Although, the Conservatives argued that it was impossible to curtail the IS militants without attacking the members, the NDP argued for humanitarian aid and the Liberals argued on the absence of a detailed plan as to what will happen and what still needs to be done.

According to latest reports, Baird has been calling upon the Members of the Parliament to treat the issues seriously, but also made some remarks about the standings of the Liberal Party.

“My Canada protects the vulnerable. It challenges the aggressor. My Canada doesn’t leave all the heavy lifting to others,” Baird said. “There was a time when the Liberal Party believed in that.”

On the other hand Marc Garneu, foreign Affairs critic, has said that there is not much room for Canadian forces to join the combat mission against IS in Iraq. “The prime minister is taking us across the Rubicon by deciding on a combat mission,” Garneau said. “Once a country makes that decision, there is no turning back the clock…. It is no simple matter to cross back over, and we all know this conflict is likely to last a long time.​”

According to multiple sources, up until last Friday the contributions of the Canadian forces included six CF 18 jets, two Aurora Surveillance planes and one heavy lift plane. The Canadian troop will contain 600 personnel, and the mission will continue over Iraq, unless the Canadian troops have access to Syrian grounds to bomb IS territory.  However, the Canadian deployment will be limited to a period of six months only.

Refugees and Kurds from Syria Clash with Turkish Forces

The refugees and Syrian Kurds have clashed with the Turkish forces on the Turkey and Syria border. The Turkish troops had to use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the angry mob in Syria, where the IS militants are trying to conquer Kobane.

On the other hand, unconfirmed reports from several sources claim that more than 35 IS militants have been killed in US led coalition air strikes over the past months.

Last Friday, US Vice – President, Joe Biden criticized US allies in Arab and Turkey for supporting the Islamic militants, which prompted a sharp response from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President who said, “If Mr Biden used such language that would make him a man of the past for me.” He also went on to say, “No-one can accuse Turkey of having supported any terrorist organization in Syria, including IS.”

The air was rife with tension on the Turkish – Syrian border when Kurdish refugees from both the countries were chased by the military from a rocky hill on the Turkish side while watching the siege of Kobane. The demonstrators were supporting the Kurdish fighters trying to stop the progress of IS militants.

Although according to reports, Turkey has pledged to prevent the capture of Kobane by IS militants and the parliament has granted permission for military operations in both Syria and Turkey. That said, they have taken no action against the invading IS forces.

Currently, if IS forces capture Kobane and Ayn Al Arab, they will have control over most of Turkish – Syrian border. Reports from several sources confirm that 35 IS rebels have been killed in air strikes led by US, but most of the rebels have died in a different area, near and in the town of Shadadi. The US coalition force has confirmed that four air strikes have hit the city of Kobane overnight.

On the other hand, Bashar al Ashad, the Syrian president visited a mosque near Damascus on Saturday at the start of Muslim holiday. It is to be noted that the Syrian President has rarely been seen in public considering the fact that the Syrian government and its officials are continuously fighting the civil war against the rebellion groups in which more than the 190,000 people have been killed.

Air Strikes Against ISIS Useless, The Terror Continues

According to latest reports, the ISIS militants have moved more than a mile in the centre of the City of Kobane, without being deterred by the constant air strikes made by the Coalition force.

The war between the IS militants and the Syrian army continued despite another coalition air strike in the Kobane enclave according to Idris Nassan, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Kobane.

“There are fierce clashes between Isis and YPG [People’s Defence Corps] fighters, at the moment mainly to the south-east of the city. Isis now stands at two kilometers from the city centre,” told Nassan, “I can hear the bombs and shells here.”

“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobane,” according to Nassan. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”

He also added that ISIS militants are habituated with their tactics from the air strikes on them. He went on to say, “Each time a jet approaches they leave their open positions, scatter, and hide. What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”

On the other hand, the co – chairman of Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Saleh Muslim, went to Ankhara this Friday to discuss Turkish support and assistance in defending Kobane against IS militants. According to reports, the security officials present in Ankhara have urged the Muslims to join the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to battle the IS militants in Kobane and to take an open stance against the open regime of Bashar Al Assad. On Sunday, the representatives of the Kurdish group  arrived at the borders of Turkey to form an allegiance by showing their support.

According to Nassan, help from the international community is being sought to defend Kobane from the rebels. He went on to say, “Mr Muslim’s trip to Ankara is part of that call. Since Turkey agreed to join the international coalition to fight Isis, we ask them to help us, too.”

Although the exact result of the meeting is still unknown, the Muslims have asked Ankara to allow the Syrian Kurdish associates to receive arms and support from outside Syria. The main problem here is the fact that if IS militants capture Kobane, they will be on the borders of Turkey which will be a major concern for Turkey as well.

Pakistani Talibans To Support IS In Iraq and Syria

The Pakistani Taliban have recently expressed their support for the IS militants in Iraq and Syria. In a statement made on the eve of the Muslim festival Eid, the Taliban group has requested the followers of Islam to unite against the common “enemy”, i.e. the US led alliance.

Although IS militants have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria, they have also been battling rival militant groups linked with Al Qaeda. It is to be noted that the Pakistani Taliban group has been waging their own rebellion against the government in Islamabad since 1997.

On Saturday, while addressing the IS militants in Iraq and Syria, a statement was issued by Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of Tehrek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He said, “We are proud of your conquests against the enemies. We are with you in good and bad times. In these troubled days, we call on you to be patient and stay united as your enemies are now united against you. Forget rivalries.” He went on to say that the Muslim communities around the world would “stand by you in these tough times and help with what we can”.

However, several sources report that there have been little evidence in favor of an agreement between the Pakistani Taliban group and the IS militants. That being said, supporters of IS in Pakistan have recently been spotted in Peshawar and the north – western region of Pakistan while praising the group and distributing pamphlets to support the militants.

On Saturday, the Shia military and the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters moved the IS militants away from an important bridge near the city of Kirkuk. The IS militants have been advancing in several locations in Syria including Kobane, on the Turkish border. Incidentally, the Turkish borders have turned as a battleground for the IS militants and its opponents and the Kurdish fighters.

According to the latest reports, more than 160,000 Kurds have moved across the border since the launch of IS militant’s offensive last month on Koban. Moreover, more than 190,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria, which has been happening for the past three years. It is to be noted that the IS’s swift and undeterred advance has caused the US and its allies to plan and execute air strikes in Iraq since June 2014 to stop their advance and the loss of lives in Syria and Iraq.