Tag Archives: ISIS

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.

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.

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.