Iraq Blog - Live Blogs - Al Jazeera English

Iraq Blog

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.




  • United Arab Emirates-based airliner Etihad Airways has suspended all flights to Erbil, northern Iraq's capital, with immediate effect until further notice.

    The decision to suspend the flights was due to the possibility of a deteriorating security situation in the region as a result of ongoing military conflict between Iraqi army and Islamic State fighters, the airliner said.


  • The UN said that it was gravely concerned by the serious deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in northern Iraq.

    "Islamic State have overrun areas in the Ninewa plains and Shirkhan districts of Ninewa, with fighting continuing between ISIL and the Kurdish forces along border areas of the Kurdistan Region in the vicinity of Makhmour," the UN statement said.

    According to the statement, the Deputy Special Representative of the United
    Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin
    the, called on the government of Iraq and the Kurdish government of northern Iraq to coordinate a security and humanitarian response to the current crisis and to do their utmost to ensure the availability of resources to support the humanitarian needs of those civilians displaced or affected by the violence.  


  • Pentagon says no US air strikes have taken place in Iraq 


    Media reports that the United States has struck targets in Iraq are not accurate, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday, as fighters from the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda offshoot, advanced across northern Iraq. 

    "Press reports that US has conducted airstrikes in Iraq completely false," Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a post on his Twitter feed. "No such action taken."

    Kirby's statement came as U.S. officials said that the Obama administration has approved military air drops of humanitarian supplies in northern Iraq and is considering strikes against fighters from the Islamic State. [Reuters]
  • BREAKING: Obama announces two operations in Iraq; Targeted air strikes to protect US personnel and humanitarian aid to stranded minorities. 
  • Obama authorises targeted air strikes in Iraq 


  • US expediting military aid to Iraq's Kurds 

    The United States is expediting military assistance to Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga forces, a senior US administration official said on Thursday, supplementing the Hellfire missiles, ammunition, and anti-tank ammunition that it has been delivering to Iraqi security forces.

    "We are now expediting assistance to the Kurds," the official told reporters. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not describe what type of assistance would be provided to Kurdish forces. [Reuters]


  • Sistani urges unity against the Islamic State group

    Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is Iraq's leading Shia religious leader [Reuters]

    Iraq's leading Shia religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called on Iraqis to unite and confront the "big danger" posed by the Islamic State group, whose advances in the north have alarmed the Baghdad government and its ally the United States.

    "All Iraqis should unify ranks and intensify efforts in the face of this big danger that threatens their present and future," said Sistani.

    Sistani, delivering a weekly sermon through a spokesman in the Shia city of Kerbala, blamed Iraqi politicians for the crisis, saying they were motivated by self-interest.

    In an attack on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who has refused to drop his bid for third term, Sistani slammed politicians who were clinging to their posts, as making a "grave mistake".

    "All political parties should know that conflicts and differences among each other - which in many times have no justification
    but self interest or sectarian or national 
    interests, have caused the weakening of everybody and opened the door for the terrorists," he said.

    He further urged Iraq's bickering political leaders to choose a Prime Minister who would end the security crisis posed by the Islamic State group.
    [Reuters]

  • Obama authorises air strikes in Iraq
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    US President Barack Obama has authorised air strikes targeting Sunni rebels in Iraq.

    He wants to hem in fighters from the Islamic State Group and aid the thousands of Yazidis that are trapped in the mountainous region of Sinjar.

    Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports from Washington. 
  • UK rules out military intervention in Iraq

    British Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision to authorise air strikes against Sunni rebels, but has ruled out any military intervention in the conflict.

    "I welcome President Obama's decision to accept the Iraqi government's request for help and to conduct targeted US airstrikes," Cameron said in a statement.

    He added "I am extremely concerned by the appalling situation in Iraq and the desperate situation facing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."

    But a spokesman for Cameron said Britain, which joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, told the AFP news agency "We are not planning a military intervention."
    [AFP]
  • Kurdish officials welcome US airstrikes against rebels

    Kurdish officials have welcomed a US decision to carry out airstrikes in northern Iraq against advancing Sunni rebels.

    "We thank Barack Obama," said Khalid Jamal Alber, of the Ministry of Religious Affairs for the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq.

    A string of victories across the north of the country by the Islamic State group and their allies have sent Iraq's minorities fleeing for their lives, exacerbating the country's already-dire humanitarian crisis.
    [Associated Press]
  • Islamic State group seizes control of Mosul dam

    The Islamic State group has seized control of Iraq's largest dam, north of their hub of Mosul, giving them control over the supply of water and electricity for a vast area, officials say.

    Holgard Hekmat, spokesman for the Kurdish Peshmerga force that previously guarded the key infrastructure told the AFP news agency, "Mosul dam has been in insurgent hands since last night." 

    The head of the provincial council of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, confirmed the Islamic State group had captured the dam on Thursday.
    [AFP]
  • The British government told its citizens to leave parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, including the regional capital Erbil, as the sweeping advance of Islamic State fighters brought them closer to Kurdish territory. 

    The government said the security situation could deteriorate quickly after fighting in the last two days to the southwest of Erbil, where many Western oil workers and executives are based. It advised British citizens in the regional capital of 1.5 million people to leave immediately.

    "This follows attacks by the Islamic State... on towns to the Southwest of Erbil on 6-7 August," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on its website.

    [Reuters]

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry has said a campaign by Islamic State fighters in Iraq bore the signs of genocide.

    "The stakes for Iraq's future can also not be more clear," Kerry said on a visit to the Afghan capital Kabul.

    Islamic State "campaign of terror against the innocent, including the Christian minority, and its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide," he said.

    [Reuters]

  • The US Defence Department has said the US military conducted a targeted airstrike against self-claimed jihadist Islamic State fighters, who control large areas in Iraq.

    According to Pentagon’s statement, two F/A-18 warplanes dropped 225 kilograms of laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece in northern Iraqi capital of Erbil.

    “[Islamic State] was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where US personnel are located. The decision to strike was made by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief,” the statement said.

    [Al Jazeera and agencies]

  • Senior Political Analyst Marwan Bishara comments on the developments in Iraq
    by Umut.Uras

  • The Associated Press journalist Bram Janssen in northern Iraq posted these tweets on the US air strikes in the region:

     
     

    1 of 2


  • Fighting pushes refugees closer to Erbil as US warplanes bomb Islamic State group

    Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Erbil
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

  • Iraq supplies Kurds with ammunition in unprecedented move 

    The Iraqi government provided a planeload of ammunition to Peshmerga fighters from Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Friday, a US official said, in an unprecedented act of military cooperation between Kurdish and Iraqi forces brought on by an acute militant threat.

    The official said Iraqi security forces flew a C-130 cargo plane loaded with mostly small-arms ammunition to Erbil, in a move that American officials hope will help the region's Peshmerga fighters keep fighters from the Islamic State at bay.

    "This is unprecedented," the official said on condition of anonymity. 

    "Developments over the last few days have refocused the issue, and we've seen unprecedented cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil in terms of going after (the Islamic State), not only in terms of conversation but in terms of actual support." [Reuters]
  • US military aircraft drop food and water to Iraqis for second night

    US military aircraft have dropped humanitarian aid to Iraqis under threat from the Islamic State group in northern Iraq for the second straight  night, the Pentagon says.

    The cargo planes, accompanied by two F-18 fighter jets from the USS George H.W. Bush, supplied US military rations and drinking water. 

    "This airdrop was conducted from multiple airbases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and as with last night, included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies," the Pentagon said in a statement released late on Friday.
    [Reuters]
  • Iraqis divided over US airstrikes

    Iraqis are divided over the US decision to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State group near the city of Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

    Residents interviewed in the capital Baghdad appeared split over whether the airstrikes were a much-needed boost in the fight against extremism, or merely further intervention from a foreign power that has long meddled in Iraq to further its own interests.

    "I think the airstrikes from the US are in line with their own interests, and I think the airstrikes should have been conducted by Iraq but not any other countries," said Hussam Hamid, a Baghdad resident.
    [Associated Press]

  • Thousand of Iraqis have arrived at Sulaymaniyah fleeing the violence in Nineveh province [Reuters] 
    The Islamic State group have expanded from their stronghold of Mosul, capturing a string of towns in recent weeks [Reuters] 
    The US has threatened to single out Islamic State fighters if its interests in Iraq are threatened [Reuters] 
     
     

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  • Who Are The Yazidis In Iraq?
    by AJ+ Labs via YouTube

  • Obama says he won't allow rebels to create a Caliphate 

    US President Barack Obama says he is willing to consider broader use of military strikes in Iraq, and may eventually do more, to beat back the Islamic State group which seeks to control its own state.

    Speaking with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said he would not allow fighters to create a Caliphate and his allies in the region needed to do more to rout the group.

    "We do have a strategic interest in pushing back [the Islamic State group]. We’re not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq,

    "But we can only do that if we know that we have got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void."

    Otherwise, Obama said, "We can run [the Islamic State group] off for a certain period of time, but as soon as our planes are gone, they’re coming right back in."

    Read the full interview with the US President here.
  • Australia may help in US airdrops in Iraq

    Australia may participate in US airdrops of food and water to civilians threatened by fighters from the Islamic State group in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

    Abbott said Australia could contribute to the effort of dropping food and water to thousands of people who have been hiding from the rebels in a barren northern mountain range.

    "We are talking to the Americans about possible Australian participation in these humanitarian airdrops," Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

    "Australia does have some transport assets in the Middle East," he added, saying two C-130 aircraft in the United Arab Emirates could be used.

    "We've been asked to consider participation in humanitarian airdrops, and I think the Australian people would be pleased to think that Australia might be involved in helping to rescue up to 40,000 people."
    [AFP]
  • Etihad reroutes planes to avoid Iraq's 'conflict airspace'

    Etihad Airways is rerouting its flights to avoid "conflict airspace" in Iraq, as Turkish Airlines says it has resumed its flights to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.

    Both airlines announced their decisions Saturday, a day after the Obama administration ordered US airlines not to fly over Iraq following the first US airstrikes there.

    Etihad, based in Abu Dhabi, made its decision following a similar move by Dubai-based Emirates, the Mideast's largest carrier.
    [Associated Press]
  • Turkey's military rules out intervention against Islamic State group

    Turkey's defense minister has dismissed launching military strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq, and rebufefd suggestions his country was involved in any US airstrikes against the rebels.

    In a statement released by the ministry Saturday, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said his country had not provided "any support to the US so far."

    He cited Turkey's responsibility toward 49 Turkish citizens taken hostage by the Islamic State group from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in June. The hostages include diplomatic staff, special forces police and children.

    Due to this, Yilmaz said, "it is impossible for us to do anything different."
    [Associated Press]
  • Islamic State group attempts to repair Mosul dam

    The Islamic State group who seized Iraq's biggest dam have brought in engineers
    for 
    repairs, witnesses say

    An engineer at Mosul dam told the Reuters news agency that Islamic State fighters had brought in engineers to repair an emergency power line to the city, Iraq's biggest in the north, that had been cut off four days ago, causing power outages and water shortages.

    "They are gathering people to work at the dam," he said. 

    A dam administrator said the rebels were putting up the trademark Islamic State black flags and patrolling with flatbed trucks mounted with machine guns to protect the facility they seized from Kurdish forces earlier this week.
    [Reuters]


  • Iraqi Kurdish security forces have opened a road to Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq and rescued more than 5,000 Yazidis stuck there while running away from Islamic State’s advancement inside the country, a Kurdish army spokesman told Al Jazeera.

    "I can confirm that we succeeded in reaching the mountains and opening a road for the refugees," says Halgord Hikmet, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces called peshmergas.


  • Barack Obama, the US president, said at a news conference on Saturday that Washington was proud to be acting alongside friends and allies in Iraq during the airstrikes and was in the process of reaching Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain.

    Obama repeatedly called on the Iraqis to come together to form a legitimate Iraqi government and overcome a political crisis that has been going on for weeks. 

    He also said that there was no particular timetable regarding the airstrikes, adding that they would take place as long as it was necessary to protect Iraqi civilians and US citizens, diplomats and military advisers in Iraq.

    Separately, in his weekly address earlier on Saturday, he said he would not the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq, making it clear that American combat troops will not return to fight there.
  • Thousands of members of Yazidis, a religious minority group under attack by Islamic State fighters, have fled across the border from Iraq to seek refuge with the Kurds of northeastern Syria, said two Kurdish officials and an activist.

    Kurdish officials Ekrem Hasso and Juan Mohammad told the AP news agency that the Yazidis fled across the border from Iraq to seek refuge with the Kurds of northeastern Syria after Iraqi Kurdish troops opened safe passage fro them.

    Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also said thousands of people have fled from Iraq into Syria but had no exact number.

    [Associated Press]

  • US, Kurd forces fight against IS group near Erbil

    Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from Erbil 
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

  • US oversees its 3rd airdrop of supplies in Iraq

    The US military has dropped food and water for a third time to thousands of Iraqi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar.

    US Central Command said in a statement Saturday night that the latest airdrop involved planes from multiple air bases and included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo planes. Fighter aircraft flew in support of the airdrop.

    Officials say the aircraft delivered 72 bundles of supplies, including more than 3,800 gallons of water and more than 16,000 meals.
    [Associated Press]
  • UN urges Iraqi politicians to form government

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Iraqi politicians to form a broad-based government to face the Islamic State group threatening large parts of the country.

    Ban "calls upon all Iraqi political parties to abide by the constitutional timeline that governs the nomination of the Prime Minister," his spokesman said in a statement.

    "He also calls for reason and wisdom to prevail and urges all leaders in Iraq to form a broad-based government that is acceptable to all components of Iraqi society."

    "Such a government should be able to mobilize the nation to confront the threat from the Islamic State in a way that will bring security and stability to the whole country."

    Iraq's parliament has been deadlocked on chosing a new prime minister following elections in April.
    [AFP]

  • French foreign minister en route to Baghdad and Erbil

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is travelling to Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil for talks with Iraqi leaders, his ministry says.

    Fabius, who left France early on Sunday, will meet with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in the capital before flying to Erbil in the country's north where US forces have launched air strikes against the Islamic State group. 

    In Erbil, Fabius will hold talks with the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani and oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians who have fled.
    [AFP]
  • French foreign minister arrives in Baghdad for talks

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has arrived in Baghdad for talks with officials on efforts to confront the Islamic State group, state television has reported.

    Kurdish officials said Fabius would later travel to their regional capital Erbil for further talks.
    [Reuters]
  • Britain airdrops humanitarian aid to besieged Iraqis

    The UK has begun airdropping food and water to thousands of civilians stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq after fleeing the Islamic State group.

    The British development ministry has said two transport planes were deployed to the Sinjar region, where the Islamic State group are on the offensive.
    [AFP]
  • Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Erbil, says Iraq's parliament is meeting in Baghdad today and it may offer some positive news on the election of a new prime minister.
  • Fabius calls on Iraqis to develop an inclusive government

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says Iraq needs to develop an inclusive government to face the threat posed by the Islamic State group.

    "Iraq is in need of a wide unity government, and all Iraqis should feel that they are represented in this government, and all Iraqis should feel they are represented to take part in this battle against terrorism," Fabius told a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad.
    [Reuters]
  • Kuwait Airways to avoid Iraqi airspace

    Kuwait Airways has said it will no longer overfly Iraq in the wake of US air strikes on positions there, making it the latest company to re-route its flights.

    The airline made the announcement on Sunday saying "alternative routes will pass over Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt."

    The Federal Aviation Administration in Washington banned all US civilian flights over Iraq just hours after American jets carried out air strikes on Friday.
    [AFP]

  • Obama's balancing act over Iraq's crisis
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    US President Barack Obama is warning that the fight against the Islamic State group may take time.

    Speaking before US fighter jets carried out a new round of air strikes, Obama blamed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-led government for failing to empower Iraq's Sunnis, saying Baghdad was ultimately responsible for pushing back the offensive.

    Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman reports from Washington.
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