Tag Archives: IS militants

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.