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Iraq Blog Live

Sunni fighters led by group known as the Islamic State have overrun large areas of western and northern Iraq. Follow Al Jazeera's live blog for the latest updates and information.


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  • Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militiamen backed by US air strikes pressed a fightback against Islamic State, buoyed by breaking a weeks-long siege of a Shia town.

    The military gains came as a senior UN rights official said the Islamic State (IS) group has carried out "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale" in Iraq, and caretaker premier Nuri al-Maliki vowed the country would be the group's "graveyard".

    [Source: AFP]

  • The Islamic State group has been pushed out of another town in Iraq.

    Sulaiman Bek, 100 kilometres south of Kirkuk, is now under the control of an alliance of Iraqi army forces, Kurdish troops and local fighters.

    Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad.

  • Germany offers military aid against IS group

    Defence minister says 4,000 Kurdish fighters will be armed to fight Islamic State group operating in Syria and Iraq.
  • Iraq breaks Islamic State siege of Amerli

    Government forces mainly composed of peshmerga fighters enter northern town where thousands of civilians were trapped.
  • Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from northern Mosul. 

    US jets target Islamic State positions in Iraq
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube
  • A suicide bomber has attacked an army headquarters in the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

    The attacker drove a car full of explosives up to the building for before blowing it up. Thirteen soldiers have been killed and 21 were injured.

  • Our correspondent also tweeted that fighting is still ongoing in the town of Suleiman Beg.

  • Kurdish Peshmerga troops and Shia militias are claiming to have retaken the northern Iraqi town of Amerli after fighting with the Islamic State. The town has been under seige by IS fighters for around two months.

    Our Sue Turton reports from the town of Tuz Kharmatu, which is 20km north of Amerli.

    Audio: Sue Turton reports on the fight for Amerli
    by Rahul Radhakrishnan
  • Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Lalish 

    Iraq's besieged Yazidi minority cry for help
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

  • Australia to join in air lift of military equipment to Kurds - Abbott 

    Australia will drop military equipment and aid to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq in response to a request from the United States, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday.

    Australia will join Canada, Italy, France, Britain and the United States in providing arms and humanitarian relief as part of a multinational effort to be coordinated by Iraq and other countries in the region, Abbott said.

    "The situation in Iraq represents a humanitarian catastrophe," Abbott said in a statement. He said Australia would continue to work with international partners to "address the security threat" posed by the rebel fighters.

    The United States is intensifying its push to build an international campaign against Islamic State fighters who have seized a third each of Iraq and Syria, declared open war against the West.[Reuters]

  • US forces have struck Islamic State group targets near the besieged town of Amerli, but the Pentagon says it is limiting its military involvement to securing the delivery of aid to its mainly Shia Turkmen residents. Read our report here.

  • And here's Al Jazeera's report on the Iraqi army's attempts to break the siege of Amerli by Islamic State group fighters. 

  • And here's a video report to go with Jane's article in the previous post.

  • Al Jazeera's correspondent in Baghdad, Jane Arraf, reports on the dire situation faced by Turkmen Shia in the Iraqi town of Amerli, which is currently besieged by the Islamic State group.

    Some residents who haven't managed to escape have vowed to kill themselves before surrendering to the fighters, who have in the past carried out brutal executions of minorities they have captured.

    Read Jane's report here.
  • Why is the fight for the Shia-Turkmen majority town of Amerli so significant? Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf explains: 

    "The Shia Turkmen are Iraq's third largest ethnic group after the Arabs and the Kurds, and the Shia within them are a minority.

    Amerli is a farming town where the men have taken up arms, they're backed by Shia militia members who have been flown into the town by Iraqi helicopters. Then around that you've got the circle of Islamic State fighters and around that from both sides you have the militias and the Iraqi army.

    All of this of course is extremely volatile and if it fails, the fear is it could lead to even more sectarian violence and plunge the country back into a civil war."

    AFP news agency reported that Iraqi security forces, thousands of Shia militiamen and Kurdish peshmerga fighters were taking part in the operation to end the siege by the Islamic State group, who captured the town almost two months ago. 
  • Zilemo Aziz is a producer for CNN International based in northern Iraq.

  • The Iraqi Air Force have evacuated civilians in the besieged town of Amirli, according to video footage released by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence on Saturday.

    According to a statement released by the ministry, the air force landed two helicopters with medical and humanitarian supplies and evacuated a number of women and children under siege by the Islamic State group.

  • Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters launched a major operation Saturday to break the more than two-month jihadist siege of a Shiite Turkmen town, a senior officer and militia commanders said.

    Thousands of militiamen are attacking towards Amerli from the north, while Iraqi security forces are advancing from the south, they said.

  • The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council strongly condemned the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and their extreme interpretation of Islam as it opened a meeting in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

    "We denounce vehemently the practices of those who use Islam as a pretext to kill and displace en masse Iraqis and Syrians," Kuwait Foreign Minister Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said in Jeddah.

    He added that the regional body, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman supported a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month aimed at weakening the fighters.

  • Al Jazeera has learned that at least 11 people have been killed and 25 more have been injured in a suicide attack in Al Yussoufia township of southern Baghdad province.
  • The US Defence Department has released video footage on Friday which purports to show a US airstrike on an Islamic State target near Erbil, Iraq.

    The video footage, which was originally shot on Tuesday (August 26), shows an airstrike against an Islamic State armed truck, or "technical," the Defence Department said in a statement.

    by Rahul Radhakrishnan edited by Amna Bagadi 8/29/2014 8:51:27 PM
  • The US military's bombing raids and other operations in Iraq cost about $7.5 million a day, the Pentagon said Friday.

    Since the  Islamic State (IS) fighters seized territory in northern and western Iraq in June, President Barack Obama has deployed about 865 US troops to Iraq to bolster security for American diplomats and advise Baghdad government forces fighting the extremists.

  • AFP news agency is reporting that the Dutch government says it wants to strip people who go to fight in Syria or Iraq of their passports, even if they have not been convicted of a crime.

    The move comes amid growing fears that Western fighters who joined the Islamic State group and other armed groups in the Middle East will return home to carry out attacks.

    "The law will be toughened with the aim of withdrawing Dutch nationality from jihadists who have joined an armed terrorist group, even without a criminal conviction," the government said in a summary of a letter to parliament from Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

    The action could however only be taken against Dutch citizens with dual nationality, as "no one should be left stateless", the government said.

    Many Dutch Muslims from immigrant families have dual nationality, particularly Moroccan.

    "Taking away Dutch nationality means these people are no longer welcome in this country, that they cannot return," Opstelten told journalists in The Hague. He said he will submit the draft law on Friday afternoon.

    An estimated 130 Dutch citizens have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, Dutch authorities say. Around 30 have returned while 14 were killed in the fighting, according to the Dutch intelligence service AIVD.
  • The Iraqi military claims it was able to liberate six villages near Al Adeim, about 70
    kilometres from Amerli, where thousands of Turkman Shiites have been under siege
    by the Islamic State group.

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron said that he planned to introduce new legislation to make it harder for Britons to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside armed groups such as the Islamic State.

    Cameron said he would detail his plans in parliament on Monday to confiscate passports.

    "I will be making a statement in the House of Commons on Monday. This will include further steps to stop people travelling, with new legislation that will make it easier to take people's passports away," Cameron said.
  • Britain has raised its international terrorism threat level to the second highest level of "severe" on Friday in response to possible attacks being planned in Syria and Iraq, Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May said.

    "That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," May said in a statement.

    "The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West. Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have travelled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts."
  • Iraqi officials : four soldiers and 14 fighters were killed during clashes between the Islamic State and the military in Latifiyah south of Baghdad.

  • The self-declared jihadist Islamic State (IS) group has posted video of the execution of a captured Kurdish fighter, in a warning to Iraqi Kurdish leaders to end military cooperation with Washington, a monitoring group has said.

    The US has carried out a wave of air strikes against the fighters in northern Iraq, helping Kurdish forces to claw back ground lost to the them earlier this month.

    The video, titled "A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance," opens with 15 men in orange jumpsuits standing around the IS flag.

    Three of the men ask Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani "and the Kurdish government to end their relationship with the US... military intervention in northern Iraq," the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service said.


  • Islamic State group executes Kurdish fighter

    The Islamic state group has released a video apparently showing the beheading of a Kurdish man in Iraq as a warning to Kurds fighting the group in the country.

    The video titled "A Message in Blood", was posted on social media sites hours after another video purporting to show the mass execution of up to 250 Syrian soldiers in the desert.

    In the video, the Kurdish man is shown in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling on the floor in front of a mosque in Mosul with three fighters behind him.

    The victim is then beheaded and the fighters warn others will face the same fate should Kurdish leaders choose to continue an alliance with the US.
  • The Kurdish pershmerga are striking the town of Sadiyah, which is located in the Diyala province, north east of Baghdad.

    They are trying to wrest back control of the town from Islamic State militants who captured Sadiyah more than a week ago.

    They're bombarded the town from the high ground to the north -- while Iraqi government forces attack the town from the south.


  • The U.S. military says fighter planes have conducted five airstrikes against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq.

    U.S. Central Command says in a brief statement that the fighters destroyed a Humvee, a tank, four armed vehicles and a construction vehicle near the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River. They also damaged an Islamic State checkpoint.

  • US President Barack Obama will meet his top national security advisers on Thursday to discuss the challenge presented by the Islamic State group and the situation in Iraq and Syria, the White House announced.

    "Today the President is meeting with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our efforts to counter the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State). You should not expect that we'll have new decisions to announce on these issues today," a White House official said.

    Obama's meeting, with Vice President Joe Biden and members of his National Security Council, will take place at 4pm EDT in the White House Situation Room, Reuters reported.
  • Iraqi security forces backed by volunteer militiamen onhave retaken several villages located on the way to the town of Amerli, which fighters have besieged for months, officers said on Thursday. 

    Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi told AFP that villages north of al-Adhaim were retaken as part of a major operation aimed at advancing toward Amerli.

    Brigadier General Khalaf Jassem confirmed that the villages had been retaken, and said that more than two dozen fighters were killed.

    Note that senior Iraqi officials and officers frequently report large fighters death tolls, but they are usually impossible to independently confirm.
  • Islamic State militants blew up three oil installations in northern Iraq on early Thursday, according to Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

    The explosion came as the Peshmerga continued to advance in their effort to recapture land under IS control.

    They battled Islamist positions west of the Mosul Lake early on Thursday morning. As the Peshmergas advanced towards the Zumar area, the fighters blew the three installations in Ain Zalah.

    A Peshmerga commander who spoke to AP under condition of anonymity, said the Kurdish troops started to attack at 4 a.m. local time on Thursday, both from north and south of Zumar.

    They recaptured Ain Zalah from IS, the officer said, but IS had put explosives in the oil installations and they blew them up while retreating.


    by Diana.AlRifai edited by Rahul Radhakrishnan 8/28/2014 3:41:41 PM

  • Journalist Ayman Oghanna went to Sinjar in Iraq to chronicle the advance of fighters from the Islamic State group toward the town, and the subsequent threat faced by the Yazidi community there. 

  • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has condemned Islamic State group fighters for the mass executions and killings of civilians. “Muslims around the world have watched in horror as a new conflict tears into Syria and Iraq. As reports of mass executions and killing of civilians surface, and graphic evidence of brutality emerges, we have been appalled," he said in statement.

  • Iraqi warplanes have begun targeting rebel fighters besieging the Shia Turkmen town of Amerli amid growing fears for the safety of thousands of residents short of food and water and facing a "massacre".

    With some 12,000 Turkmen trapped in the northern town, US President Barack Obama is "nearing a decision" to authorise strikes and aid drops in the area, The New York Times reported.

    The report added that Obama is also seeking to piece together an international coalition for potential military action in Syria, where the US has begun reconnaissance flights.

    And nine countries have committed to providing arms to Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who are fighting in north and east Iraq against Islamic State group fighters leading a sweeping offensive that has overrun large areas of the country.

    Source: AFP
  • The Associated Press has obtained a video filmed August 13 by an Iraqi cameraman, which shows Turkmen fighters allied with Iraqi police and Iraqi government forces in the town of Amirli, firing toward the position of the Islamic State fighters.

    The Islamic State group has been in control of Amirli since June 15. About 15,000 Shia Turkmen in the town have been under a tight siege and are running out of food and medical supplies.

    All shots of firing seen in the video are believed to show covering fire or general firing in the direction of the Islamic State forces. The video does not purport to show direct fighting between the two forces.

    The only way to get in and out of the besieged town is by air. 

    The Iraqi military has been trying to fly in reinforcements and humanitarian aid in order to ease the suffering of the people living there. 

    "Firstly there is no gas, no petrol, we haven't got electricity or water and the communication network is cut. In other words, everything that a citizen needs has been cut off," said Amirli fighter Sami Saleh. 

    The UN called for a humanitarian corridor to be put in place after Amirli was surrounded and attacked by Islamic State militants.
  • Iran supplied weapons to Iraqi Kurdish forces -Kurdistan President

    Iran supplied weapons and ammunition to Iraqi Kurdish forces, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani has said at a joint press conference with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region. 

    "We asked for weapons and Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons," Barzani said on Tuesday. 

    The armed group Islamic State have clashed with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in recent weeks and taken control of some areas on the periphery of Iraqi Kurdistan. [Reuters]

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani during their meeting on Tuesday in Erbil. Zarif is on a two-day visit to Iraq, as it fights a Sunni Arab insurgency led by the Islamic State group. [AFP]

  • Peshmerga fighters take position at a post in the strategic Jalawla area, in Diyala province, which is a gateway to Baghdad, as battles with Islamic State continue. Kurdish forces backed by Iraqi air support retook three villages in the Jalawla area, as well as a main road used by IS to transport fighters and supplies, 
    peshmerga members said. [AFP]
  • Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Erbil, said that the latest series of bombings in Shia neighbourhoods in the Iraqi capital Baghdad may be an indication that Islamic State has supporters already in the city.

  • Men walk past at the site of a car bomb attack on Tuesday. Two car bombs killed at least 11 people and wounded 25 in a mainly Shia district of Baghdad on Monday. Another car bomb hit Baghdad on Tuesday. [Reuters]

  • A least seven people have been reportedly killed and 18 others injured after a car bomb explosion in the predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad. More details to follow.
  • Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, raises issue of human rights abuses committed by the Islamic State:

  • The Australian government announced a Aus$64 million (US$60 million) package to help prevent youngsters from being radicalised and joining "extremist groups" in the Middle East.

    The funding follows a warning from spy chief David Irvine this month that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of fighters.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott said up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) fighters, while another 100 were actively working to support the movement at home.

    "Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian citizens amongst the foreign fighters highlights the need for action to counter radicalisation," Abbott said, adding that IS was using "medieval barbarism allied to modern technology".

    "That's how serious and dangerous this movement is. Because of the Australians who are involved with this movement, what might otherwise be a problem in a far away country is a problem for us."

    Abbott said the Aus$64 million would help support community groups and security agencies, with the emphasis on preventing radicalisation and reducing the threat of home-grown terrorism.

  • Kirkuk - a key city in the northern Kurdish region - was the target of bombings over the weekend.

    Officials say the Islamic State group has exploited Kirkuk's divisions, quietly establishing a presence in the city's Sunni Arab neighbourhoods where there is a deep resentment against the Kurds and the Shia led government.

    The challenge prompted the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to cooperate on the front line against the IS and its allies.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Kirkuk.

  • Iraq bombings target Shia areas

    At least 41 people killed in Baghdad and other cities, as new prime minister calls for unity.
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