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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.

  • Canada is committing two cargo planes to move military supplies into northern Iraq as part of the international effort to bolster Kurdish forces against Islamic State fighters.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday a CC-177 Globemaster and a CC-130J Hercules transport will shuttle arms provided by allies to the Iraqi city of Irbil over the next few days

    The flights, crewed by some 30 Canadian Forces personnel, will continue as long as there
    is equipment and supplies to move.

  • With the Islamic State group now controlling a third of Iraq and Syria, the Security Council took a unified stand against what it called one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

    Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

  • US jets strike Islamic State group positions around Mosul  

    US fighter jets launched a bombing campaign against positions of the Islamic State group near Mosul dam and surrounding towns early Saturday morning, the Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported. 

    The jets bombed IS positions in four areas near the dam as well as in Rabia crossing, Mahmoudia, Telskouf, Zumar and Tilkef.

    Peshmerga eyewitness said this is the heaviest US bombing of IS positions since the start of airstrikes last week.

    Rudaw reporter Hevidar Ahmed said that a gas station used by IS fighters to fuel their vehicles and a major junction leading to Mosul were targeted by the US fighter jets. [Rudaw]

  • UN imposes sanctions on Islamic State group

    The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at
    weakening the Islamic State group in Iraq amid reports the group
     killed dozens of residents in besieged ethnic Yazidi areas.

    Responding to the growing threat from the group, the UN imposed sanctions on six men for recruiting or financing foreign fighters, and threatened additional sanctions against those supporting the groups.

    The resolution was drafted by Britain and adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, meaning it can be militarily enforced. 
    The resolution notes that oil fields controlled by the Islamic State group, Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked groups are generating income that is supporting their recruitment efforts and ability to carry out their operations.

    Speaking after the resolution was approved by the Council, British Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said the resolution takes significant steps toward cutting off that funding.

    "They may have some short-term resources at their disposal, but they cannot survive independent of the outside world," Grant told reporters.  

    "We've been very clear that there should be no sale, export of any assets that could support ISIL or ANF (Al Nusra Front) or al-Qaeda. That is very clear in this resolution, and member states have a binding obligation under Chapter 7 to prevent that happening," Grant said.

    Both Syria and Iraq welcomed the resolution. 
    [Associated Press]

  • Tens of thousands of Yazidis have fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar [Reuters]
    Almost 2,000 Yazidis have crossed the border and found refuge in southern Turkey [Reuters] 
    The Yazidi religion includes elements of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam [Reuters] 

    1 of 3

  • Saudi religious leader calls for 'global code of conduct' to curb violence

    A leading Sunni Saudi religious leader has called for a global code of conduct for leaders, scholars and young people to halt a further slide into violence and "terror" in the Middle East.

    Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, decried "mass massacres against humanity" in Gaza, Syria and Iraq during his Friday sermon in Mecca.

    "All of this happens under the sight and hearing of the international community ... which raises fear that a generation would come to believe only in violence, terror and the clash of civilisations," Saudi state news agency SPA quoted Sudais as saying.

    He said "there was an urgent need to prepare a global code of conduct in which the leaders and scholars would deliver their messages and in which the youths would set their thoughts right and the path of the new media is set right," SPA added.

    The report did not go into details of the contents of such a code of conduct. 

    The US-allied kingdom has grown increasingly alarmed since the Islamic state group captured large areas of neighbouring Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic caliphate.
  • Why Is The US Dropping Bombs In Iraq, Again?
    by AJ+ Labs via YouTube

  • The UN Security Council has disclosed the names of six men who it has imposed sanctions on, citing their alleged links to the Islamic State group and its rival the Nusra Front. 

    Abu Mohammed al Adnani - Islamic State spokesman

    Spokesman for the Islamic State group, Adnani proclaimed the caliphate on June 29 and has also called on followers to take Baghdad in video recordings. 

    His real name is thought to be Taha Sobhi Falaha, born in 1977 in Banash, a village in near the Syrian city of Aleppo. He was first the spokesman of IS and was later appointed an emir.

    Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharekh, Al-Qaeda's man in Syria

    A Saudi national, Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharekh is better know as Sanafi al Nasr and is allegedly the head of Al-Qaeda operations in Syria, with connections to Pakistan. He is listed for his involvement with the Nusra Front in Syria.

    Abdelrahman Muhamad Zafir al Jahani, Al-Qaeda envoy to Syria

    One of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani traveled to Syria in mid-2013 as a senior al-Qaeda leader offering support to jihadists. According to US officials, he was named as part of a group seeking to reconcile fighters from the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group. He is listed for "participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities" by the Nusra Front in Syria.

    Said Arif, recruiter for Syria's battlefields

    Algerian-born Said Arif is said to be a leader in the recruitment of foreign fighters, many from France to Syria. He was arrested in Damascus in 2003 and sent to France to face trial for terrorism-related crimes. He was convicted in 2007 but managed to flee in October 2012 while under house arrest in France. He is listed for his ties to the Nusra Front.

    Hajjaj Bin Fahd Al Ajmi - Nusra Front financier 

    A Kuwaiti national already targeted by US sanctions, Hajjaj bin Fahd al Ajmi has been described as a funnel for financial aid to the Nusra Front in Syria. He is said to travel regularly to Syria from Kuwait to deliver money and installed Kuwaiti nationals in Nusra leadership positions.

    Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali, Nusra Front financier

    Based in Kuwait, Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali has collected large donations from Kuwait to support the Nusra Front in Syria, most notably for purchases of arms and equipment. He also arranged travel for a number of foreign fighters to Syria.
  • Iraqi government accuses Islamic State of 'massacre'

    The Iraqi government has accused the Islamic State group of carrying out a "massacre" in the northern Iraqi village of Kocho, killing dozens of people from the Yazidi religious minority.

    "We have information from multiple sources, in the region and through intelligence, that [on Friday] afternoon, a convoy of [IS] armed men entered this village," senior Iraqi official Hoshyar Zebari told the AFP news agency.

    "They took their revenge on its inhabitants, who happened to be mostly Yazidis who did not flee their homes," Zebari said, referring to a religious community regarded as heretics by IS.

    "They committed a massacre against the people," he said. "Around 80 of them have been killed."

    Harim Kamal Agha, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in Dohuk province, which borders Nineveh, put the death toll at 81 and said IS had taken women to prisons they control.

    Yazidi fighter, Mohsen Tawwal, told the AFP he saw a large number of bodies in the village.

    "There were corpses everywhere. We only managed to get two people out  alive. The rest had all been killed," he said.

  • UN: Internally displaced by governorate [Reuters] 

  • Airstrikes target IS-controlled Mosul dam

    Residents living near Iraq's Mosul dam, held by the Islamic State group, say the area is being targeting in airstrikes.

    The residents speaking on condition of anonymity said the airstrikes hit on Saturday afternoon.

    The Islamic State group seized the dam on the Tigris River on August 7 as part of their offensive that's seen the capture large swaths of Iraq.
    [Associated Press]

  • Iraq's Christians seek refuge in Lebanon
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq in recent months trying to escape persecution by the Islamic State group.

    Some of these families have started trickling into Lebanon to seek safety.

    But many are struggling to survive, living off the charity and generosity of others, as the fighting in Iraq shows no sign of letting up.

    Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from Beirut
  • Barzani appeals to Germany for weapons 

    Masoud Barzani is the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region [Reuters]

    The leader of Iraq's Kurds has appealed to Germany for weapons to help Kurdish fighters batte the Islamic State group, saying foreign powers must find a way to cut off the group's funding.

    Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said the Kurds needed more than the humanitarian aid that Germany began sending on Friday to support people forced to flee their homes by the Sunni militant group's advance. 

    The European Union on Friday gave a green light to EU governments to supply arms and ammunition to the Kurds if it has the consent of the government in Baghdad. 

    "We also expect Germany to deliver weapons and ammunition to our army so that we can fight back against the IS terrorists," Barzani told German magazine Focus. 

    He said they needed German training and what they lacked most were anti-tank weapons. 

    Barzani also said foreign governments had to find a way to choke off the Islamic State's sources of funding. 

    "A grand alliance must drain the IS's financial sources and prevent individuals from aligning themselves with the IS group," he said. 

  • PKK rebels are making their way to Iraq to join other Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State group. Read more here. 

  • Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr explains the latest US operations against the Islamic State group and gives details about the alleged massacre of 80 Yazidi civilians in Kocho in Iraq's Kurdish region.

  • Kurdish troops backed by US warplanes launched a bid Saturday to recapture Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, from Islamic State group fighters, a senior Kurdish military official said.

    "Kurdish peshmerga, with US air support, have seized control of the eastern  side of the dam" complex, Major General Abdelrahman Korini told the AFP news agency.

    Witnesses said the air strikes started early in the morning and reported that fighting was ongoing in the afternoon.
  • Influential Jordanian cleric slams Islamic State group

    Jordanian Salafist, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, has issued a stinging rebuke of the Islamic State group for persecuting ethnic minorities saying the group's proclamation a Caliphate was invalid, and that a true Caliphate would take people from "repressive governments to the mercy of Islam."

    The Jordanian cleric who was released from prison earlier this year, slammed the Islamic State's advances in Iraq accusing the group of "distorting Islam."

    In a recording published on the Tawhid and Jihad website, Makdisi urged IS to stop killing the young and the elderly, and abandon the practice of uploading the videos onto the internet. 

    "This is not the State [Islamic State] that we have been calling for, our state's mercy is for all people, the Caliphate will take people out from under the darkness of tyrants to the mercy and justice of Islam," he said.
  • Germany against Iraq's Kurds forming independent state

    Germany has said it is opposed to the formation of an independent state by Iraq's Kurds, who are currently battling the Islamic State group in the restive north.

    Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Bild newspaper in an interview Sunday, "an independent Kurdish state would further destabilise the region and trigger new tensions, maybe with the neighbouring Iraqi state as well."

    The aim, he added, "was to manage to preserve Iraq's territorial integrity".

    Steinmeier, who returned from the region on Saturday, welcomed the looming change of government in Baghdad as "maybe the last chance for the unity of the Iraqi state". 
  • Cameron warns Islamic State could stage attacks on British soil

    The British prime minister has said the UK should use its military prowess to tackle the Islamic State group from creating "a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean". 

    In his toughest comments yet, Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain needed to adopt a more robust stance against Islamic State to prevent it from one day launching an attack on British soil, a warning he first issued in June.

    "If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain. We already know that it has the murderous intent," Cameron wrote in an article for Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

    "We need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home."

    As part of its expanded role, he said he wanted Britain to lead diplomatic talks that include regional powers, possibly even Iran, to try to tackle the threat from IS.

  • Yazidis have started receiving military training by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) at the Serimli military base in Qamishli, Syria [Reuters] 

  • German foreign minister says independent Kurdish state would destabilise region

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned against the formation of an independent Kurdish state, saying this would risk further destabilising the region.

    "An independent Kurdish state would further destabilise the region and create new tensions, possibly also with the states neighbouring Iraq," Steinmeier said in an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper published on Sunday.

    "That's why I hope that Iraq's state unity will be preserved."

    The Kurds have used sectarian chaos in Iraq to expand their autonomous territory to include Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil deposits that could make the independent state many dream of in Iraq's mountainous north, and beyond, more viable.

    Kurds are considered the largest ethnic group without a state, with more than half of them living in Turkey. [Reuters]
  • Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting near Mosul dam, said that Peshmerga fighters of Iraq's Kurdish region continue to battle with the Islamic State (IS) group in order to retake Iraq's largest dam. 

    Our correspondent said that while the Kurdish fighters have advanced, IS remains in control of the Mosul dam.

  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, march in a demonstration at the Iraqi-Turkish border crossing of the Kurdistan province. Demonstrators demanded protection and evacuation from Iraq to safer areas such as Europe and the United States. [Reuters]

  • A Peshmerga soldier looks through binoculars from a position as he looks across a canal toward the Islamic State positions, south of the oil hub city of Kirkuk, on Sunday. [AFP Photo]
  • Kurdish peshmerga forces have retaken three towns on the way to Iraq's largest dam after a series of US air strikes.

    Officials told Al Jazeera that peshmerga forces captured Tel Skuf, about 15km east of the Mosul dam, from Islamic State fighters early on Sunday morning.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports near Mosul Dam.

  • More from Zeina Khodr, near the Mosul dam.

  • Kurdish fighters retake parts of Mosul dam 

    Kurdish forces have taken over parts of Iraq's largest dam, less than two weeks after it was captured by the Islamic State group, Kurdish security officials said, as US and Iraqi planes aided their advance by bombing targets near the facility.

    General Tawfik Desty, a Kurdish commander, told the Associated Press news agency that peshmerga forces are now in control of the eastern part of the Mosul dam, and that fighting is still underway following an operation early on Sunday. [AP]
  • Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the town of Tel Skuf in northern Iraq, said that Islamic State fighters have abandoned several vehicles near Mosul dam as they retreated from the advancing Kurdish forces.

    Our correspondent also reported that US drones and jets continue to target the armed group which is still in control of Iraq's largest dam. 

    There have been fears that the Islamic State fighters would blow up the dam, but US intelligence sources told Al Jazeera that it is unlikely as it would also flood the city of Mosul, the stronghold of the Sunni armed group.
  • Iraqi officer who killed journalist jailed for life

    The officer who killed an Iraqi journalist at a Baghdad checkpoint in March was sentenced to life imprisonment, a  spokesman for the judiciary said.

    "The central criminal court of Iraq, headed by Judge Beligh Hamdi, handed a sentence of life imprisonment to the defendant, who was accused of murdering journalist Mohammed Bidaiwi," Abdelsattar Bayraqdar said following the verdict on Sunday.

    Bidaiwi, the bureau chief of the US-funded Radio Free Iraq, was on his way to work on March 22 near the presidential complex on the edge of the heavily-fortified Green Zone when he was shot dead during a heated argument.

    According to witnesses, Bidaiwi was shot at close range by a plainclothes officer in the Kurdish peshmerga force. [AFP]

  • A destroyed vehicle reportedly belonging to the Islamic State group was found abandoned in a roadside near the Mosul Dam. Kurdish forces were able to retake at least three towns near Iraq's largest dam, following a series of US air strikes on Sunday.
  • Al Jazeera Exclusive: Islamic State fighters have retreated from the area near Mosul dam, as Kurdish forces retake towns with the aid of US air strikes.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from northern Iraq, however said that Iraq's largest dam remains under the control of the armed Sunni fighters.

  • US confirms fresh strikes near key Iraq dam

    US warplanes and drones pummeled Islamic State (IS) militants near Iraq's largest dam for a second straight day on Sunday, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement.

    US Central Command said fighter jets, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft carried out 14 strikes on Sunday near the Mosul Dam.

    The latest action came as Kurdish fighters battled to retake the strategically important dam from Islamist fighters.

    Sunday's strikes destroyed 10 IS armed vehicles, seven IS Humvees, two armored personnel carriers and one IS checkpoint.

    The latest military action followed nine US strikes near Arbil and Mosul dam on Saturday. [AFP]

  • Laith Kubba, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme of the US-based National Endowment for Democracy, said that supplying arms to forces fighting the Islamic State and dropping bombs, do not address "the substance" of the IS threat in Iraq and Syria. 

    In an interview with Al Jazeera, Kubba, advisor of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said that it takes more political will and "real regional strategy" for the US to defeat the IS. 

    "Short-term containment does not work," he said.
  • The English-language website Iraqi News has reported that armoured vehicles and tanks are mobilising to enter Iraq. The armed vehicles are reportedly stationed in Serpil Zahab near the border crossing with Iraq. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

  • The US Central Command's statements on air strikes on Sunday suggests that it has expanded its role in Iraq to support combat operations.

    There is an important shift in the official US language about its involvement in Iraq. The original objective of assisting humanitarian efforts and protecting US personnel and facilities has been explicitly expanded to include protecting critical infrastructure and supporting the forces who are taking on the Islamic State.

    LAST NIGHT US Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect U.S. personnel and facilities.

    TONIGHT US Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, US personnel and facilities, and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defence forces, who are working together to combat ISIL.

    Hat-tip: Jesse Mesner-Hage, a news editor for Al Jazeera English.
  • Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Erbil, tweeted the following:

    IS still holding small part of Mosul dam, air strikes over Bashiqa as Pesh waiting to retake town - security officials.

    — jane arraf (@janearraf) August 17, 2014

  • Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and an expert on the Middle East, said that it is looking more likely that the Kurdish troops could retake Iraq's largest dam from the Islamic State:

  • In some parts of northern Iraq like Erbil, people who have fled from the ongoing fighting between government forces and the Islamic State group, now outnumber its residents.

    The situation is putting a strain on local services, while leaving hospitals and clinics overwhelmed.

    Al Jazeer's Jane Arraf reports from Erbil.

  • The Associated Press news agency is reporting that the latest round of US airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq includes use of "land-based bombers".
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a warning about the rise of the Islamic State group, while calling for a "broader political, diplomatic and security response" to the threat.  

    In a statement posted on his official Facebook page on Sunday, the British leader said the world is facing "a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology" which he said Britain and its allies  "will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime."

  • Cardinal Fernando Filoni, right, Pope Francis special envoy to Iraq, blesses a displaced Iraqi man from the Yazidi community at a school that was turned into a shelter for displaced Christians and Yazids in Mangesh in northern Iraq. [Associated Press]
  • British broadcaster BBC reports on Yazidi boy paralysed and blinded by the sun after he was left in the desert as the minority group escape from the advancing Islamic State fighters: 

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