Tag Archives: iraq

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.

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.

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.