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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.

  • Ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq still suffers from the damage wrought in the overthrow of a dictator and the chaos that followed.

    Now, as Iraq adjusts after the withdrawal of American troops, what is the new reality of everyday life? What are the daily struggles for the ordinary people of this extraordinarily diverse country?

    This film by Feurat Alani, which we first aired last year, asks how far Iraq’s authorities have been able to deliver justice, prosperity and the kind of security needed for any kind of normal civilian life.

    You can watch it below on YouTube or click here to watch it on

    Al Jazeera World - Roadtrip Iraq
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube
  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar have both blamed Nouri al-Maliki's government for the ongoing crisis in Iraq.

    Saudi Arabia rejected the idea of any foreign interference in Iraq and blamed Baghdad's "sectarian and exclusionary" policies for the lightning offensive by Sunni fighters. 

    The crisis "would not have happened if it wasn't for the sectarian and exclusionary policies that were practised in Iraq in past years and which threatened its security, stability and sovereignty", official news agency SPA cited Information Minister Abdulaziz Khoja as saying.

    In the government statement, Riyadh made no mention of possible talks on Iraq between Washington and Iran.

    But Riyadh said it was necessary to "preserve Iraq's sovereignty" and rejected any outside interference in Baghdad's internal affairs. It also urged the "quick formation of a national consensus government".

    And earlier today, Qatar's foreign minister blamed the "narrow" Shia sectarianism of Maliki's government for the crisis.

    "(Baghdad has been) pursuing policies based on narrow factional interests, adopting marginalisation and exclusion, ignoring peaceful sit-ins, dispersing them by force, using violence against them and describing opponents as terrorists," said Attiyah.

    via Reuters
  • Suadad al-Salhy is the New York Times' Baghdad correspondent 

  • This video purports to show Jaish Al-Mujahedeen (the Mujahedeen Army) using a tank its fighting against Maliki’s forces.  

    Jaish Al-Mujahedeen identifies itself as a Sunni resistance movement in Iraq that was established in 2004.  

    The Mujahedeen Army is not affiliated with ISIL and the group claims it only recruits Iraqi fighters and that it operates in Baghdad. Al-Anbar, Diyala and Salah al-Din.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify this video. 

    جيش المجاهدين قاطع كركوك: استخدام الدبابات في القتال مع جيش المالكي
    by laith loth via YouTube
  • James Bays, our diplomatic editor, reported that the UN is preparing to pull out some of its staff from Baghdad. At least 58 staff members have been sent to Jordan. 

    Staff situated in the north of the country will be relocated to Erbil. 

    The UN says that it is taking no chances and has made the decision to pull back their staff.

    In August 2003, a bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad killed 17 people including the then UN envoy chief. 
  • The Iraqi Ministry of Defence released this footage today purported to show air strikes against ISIL positions in Nineveh, Salah el-Din and Sammarra. 

    The footage shows strikes on June 3, June 5, June 12, June 14 and June 15.

    قيادة القوة الجوية تدك اوكار داعش الارهابي
    by Iraqi Mod via YouTube

  • Forces allied with ISIL have almost certainly committed war crimes by executing hundreds of non-combatant men in Iraq, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Monday.

    "Although the numbers cannot be verified yet, this apparently systematic series of cold-blooded executions, mostly conducted in various locations in the Tikrit area, almost certainly amounts to war crimes," she said.

  • One from our Opinion section:

    "Having bombed Iraq into pieces, the idea is that we can now somehow bomb it back into peace."

    Rachel Shabi writes about the impact of a foreign military intervention after a decade of turmoil caused by the US-led Iraq invasion. 

  • White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that US President Barack Obama will review his national security team's suggestion for how to deal with the deepening crisis in Iraq, including possible actions when he returns to Washington later on Monday.

    "The president will be updated on their ongoing efforts [...] The goal of the president is to get an update on the thinking of individual members of his team as they've been working over the weekend to prepare some options.

    via Reuters

  • Imran Khan reports on the US' military preparations in Iraq

  • US to send up to 275 troops to Iraq

    President Barack Obama has told the United States Congress up to 275 military personnel will be deployed to Iraq after rebels seized control of the country's north.

    The troops will provide support and security for US personnel and the country's embassy in Baghdad.

    More on this story here

  • US considers sending special forces soldiers to Iraq

    Three US officials have told the Associated Press news agency that the White House was considering sending a contingent of special forces soldiers to Iraq. 

    Their limited mission which has not yet been approved would focus on training and advising beleaguered Iraqi troops, many of whom have fled their posts across the nation's north and west as Sunni rebels advanced against them.

    One US official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers, and could be authorised only as a advising and training mission.

    The White House would not confirm that special operations forces were under consideration, but spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that while Obama would not send troops back into combat, "He has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces."

    According to another US official, the troops would fall under the authority of the US ambassador in Baghdad and would not be authorised to engage in combat.

    Their mission would be "non-operational training" of both regular and counterterrorism units, which the military has in the past interpreted to mean training on military bases, the official said.

    The three US officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss the plans by name.
    [Associated Press]

  • Mehdi army fighters have vowed to defend the Shia holy city of Najaf [Reuters] 
    The Mehdi army is made up of fighters loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr [Reuters]
    Sadr's Mehdi army played a major role in the country's Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict [Reuters] 

    1 of 3

  • Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reporting from Baghdad has reported clashes breaking out in Mosul between Sunni rebels and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    "The desire to rule the country across religious lines has led to fighting for the control of Mosul, with Sunni rebels clashing with ISIL over the future of Iraq,

    There are key ideological differences between the two groups, with Sunni rebels calling for regime change, whilst fighters from ISIL wanting to re-establish an Islamic State."

  • BP says operations in Iraq unaffected by violence

    BP has the oil company's operations in Iraq were so far unaffected by violence that has gripped much of the country.

    The company's chief executive, Bob Dudley, told the Reuters news agency at an energy conference in Moscow on Tuesday "we are just very vigilant in Iraq. Non-essential production people have left but operations continue."

    Asked if he was concerned about the Iraqi government's control over the country, Dudley said: "The people we are dealing with appear to be very much in control of the oil communications that we have." 

    Dudley said BP's assets were a "long way from the troubles" in the south of the country, near Basra.
  • Iraqi Kurd PM says a political, not military solution is needed to address crisis

    The prime minister of the Kurdistan region in Iraq has warned it will be "almost impossible" for Iraq to return to how it was following sweeping gains by Sunni rebels and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    Nechirvan Barzani told the BBC it would be difficult to find a resolution with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power and recommended an autonomous region for Sunnis as a potential solution.

    "Now we have to sit down and find a solution, find how to live together... but if we expect, if we think that Iraq will go back like before Mosul, I don't think so, it's almost impossible."

    He said a political rather than military solution was needed to the unrest, taking account of Sunnis' feeling of being "neglected" by government policies.

    Asked whether a solution was possible with Maliki in power, he said: "There  is no trust right now we have to be honest... in my view it's difficult."

    On possible autonomy for Sunni areas, he added: "We have to leave it to Sunni areas to decide it but I think this is the best model for them as well to do it. The best way is to have a Sunni region like what we have in Kurdistan."

    Asked if Iraq was falling to pieces, Barzani said: "I don't think so, it will, can stay together again. 
  • UK moves towards reopening embassy in Iran

    The UK is preparing to reopen its embassy in Tehran, as the West steps up its engagement with Iran amid rapid rebel advances in Iraq.

    The Foreign Office declined to comment on the reports but said Foreign Secretary William Hague would make a statement in the House of Commons later on Tuesday.

    The UK closed its embassy in Tehran in 2011 after it was stormed by a mob and suspended full diplomatic relations.

    The reported move comes as Sunni rebels and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advance on the Iraqi capital Baghdad after a week-long offensive which has seen them make gains, including taking the second city of Mosul.
  • Iraq shuts down operations at the country's largest oil refinery

    Iraq's biggest oil refinery, Baiji, has been shut down and its foreign staff evacuated following security concerns.

    Refinery officials said on Tuesday that local staff would remain in place and the military was still in control of the facility.

    According to sources the refinery was shut down overnight as Sunni rebels advanced into the town and surrounded the refinery.
  • UN chief warns of massive sectarian violence in Iraq

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that sectarian violence could blow up to huge proportions as Iraq's instability deepens.

    Ban says he is deeply disturbed at the reports of likely war crimes, "terrorist attacks" and other atrocities.

    The UN chief told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva that "there is a real risk of further sectarian violence on a massive scale in Iraq and beyond its borders'' and urged the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take a more inclusive approach.

    He said failure to pay attention to people's rights was a breeding ground for extremism and terrorism.

    When asked about the potential break-up of Iraq, he said "the Iraqi government should have one state, whether it is Sunni, Shia or Kurds, they should be able to harmoniously live together."
  • Fighting northeast of Baghdad kills 44 detainees

    Iraqi police say at least 44 detainees died as Sunni rebels attacked a police station northeast of Baghdad and fought with pro-government Shia militiamen defending the building.

    According to the officers,  the station came under attack in Diyala province on Monday night. 

    The attackers tried to free the detainees, before Shia militiamen killed the prisoners at close range. 

    A morgue official in the provincial capital of Baqouba says many had bullet wounds to the head and chest.

    Iraq's military says 52 detainees were killed when the attackers shelled the station with mortar rounds.
    [Associated Press]
  • Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reporting from Baghdad says their is a renewed offensive by Shia militias in Baquba following the killing of dozens of Sunnis at a prison in Baquba.

  • Saudi 'responsible' for Iraq unrest

    The Iraqi government has said Saudi Arabia should be "held responsible" for the financing of rebel and insurgent groups in Iraq.

    In a statement issued by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office, Iraq accused saudi Arabia of "siding with terrorism."
  • US says Iraq unrest shows need to fight terror financing

    US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Tuesday that developments in Iraq, where Sunni rebels have seized swathes of the country, emphasise the need to combat terror financing.

    Lew told a press conference in Jeddah after talks with Saudi counterpart Ibrahim al-Assaf that close cooperation between the two countries "is even more important given our shared concerns about developments in Iraq".

    The events in Iraq also underscore the importance more broadly of redoubling our efforts to combat the financing of terrorist organisations. 
  • Kurdish-Turkmen tension on the rise in Kirkuk

    Kirkuk's Turkmen vow to take up arms if the city is not returned to Iraqi central government.
  • More than a week after ISIL rebels launched their assault, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dismissed several senior security force officers, including the top commander for Nineveh province in the north, the first to fall.

    Maliki also ordered that one of the officers he fired face court-martial for desertion. [AFP]
  • US doesn't rule out airstrikes in Iraq

    US President Barack Obama has not ruled out the possibility of airstrikes in Iraq, particularly if a strong target becomes available.

    Officials said Obama had made no final decisions but was not expected to approve imminent airstrikes, in part because there are few clear targets that could blunt a fast-moving insurgency.

    The officials said strikes were not the current focus of the administration's ongoing discussions about how to respond to the crumbling security situation in Iraq.

    Beyond airstrikes, the US also has been weighing the possibility of sending a small contingent of special operations forces to Iraq to help train that country's security forces. Officials also have been looking at ways to boost the intelligence available to Iraqi forces.

    The president planned to brief top congressional leaders on the matter at the White House on Wednesday.
    [Associated Press]

  • Chart of the civilian casualties in Iraq from November 2012 to May 2014 [Reuters] 

  • Fighting Back Against ISIS: Battle for Iraq (Dispatch 1)
    by VICE News via YouTube

    Journalist Danny Gold is embedded with Peshmerga forces in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

    In the first of his dispatches from the conflict, the semi-autonomous regions' Kurdish forces slam the Iraqi army for fleeing the battlefield.
  • India 'concerned' over nationals stranded in Iraq

    India has decided to send a diplomat to support its embassy in Iraq after several of its nationals remained stranded in Mosul and Tikrit, cities overrun by Sunni rebels.

    The spokesman of India's foreign ministry, Syed Akbaruddin, said the security of the nationals remained a matter of serious concern.

    "Our embassy is regularly in touch with all Indian nationals in this regard and we have decided to strengthen the embassy by sending a seasonal Indian diplomat, Mr. Suresh Reddy, who will travel today to Baghdad to assess the embassy in its efforts," said Akbaruddin.

    A section of media reported that India would draw a plan to rescue 87 Indians, who are held up in Iraq's Mosul and Tikrit, areas under attack by rebels. 

    Among 87 Indians, 41 construction workers are stuck in Mosul and 46 nurses from Kerala in Tikrit.
  • Spokesman for Sunni tribal groups says 'revolution' is at Baghdad's doorstep

    A leading spokesperson for the Sunni community in Iraq has said the country was in the midst of a "revolution", which was now at "Baghdad's doorstep."

    Sheik Abdul Razzak al-Shimari, the spokesperson for the People's Movement in Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni tribal movements in Iraq, said the revolution was a direct result of the "oppression, isolation and repression" of Sunni Muslims in the country.
    [Associated Press]
  • Turkish construction workers taken hostage in Iraq

    A group of Turkish construction workers are among some 60 people abducted by Sunni rebels near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, less than a week after dozens of other Turkish nationals were taken hostage in Mosul.

    According to the Dogan News Agency, rebels seized 15 Turkish workers who were building a hospital near the town of Dor, located between Selahaddin and Kirkuk, citing a worker who escaped. 

    It was not immediately clear when the abduction took place.

    Those abducted also included workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Turkmenistan, Dogan reported.
  • US facing intelligence gaps in Iraq

    The CIA and other US spy agencies are scrambling to close intelligence gaps as they seek to support possible military or covert action against Sunni rebels that have seized parts of Iraq.

    According to the Associated Press news agency, the lack of clear intelligence appears to have shifted President Barack Obama's immediate focus away from airstrikes in Iraq because officials said there are few obvious targets. 

    However, officials say no final decisions have been made and suggest Obama could ultimately approve strikes if strong targets do become available.
    [Associated Press]
  • Iraq's largest oil refinery attacked

    Sunni rebels are reported to have attacked attacked Iraq's largest oil refinery, located in Baiji in northern Iraq, with machine-gun fire and mortars on Wednesday, Iraqi security sources and refinery employees said.

    The attack started at 0100 GMT from outside two of the three main entrances to the sprawling facility.

    One mortar hit a spare-parts warehouse and smoke billowed from the building, the sources said. 

    On Tuesday, foreigners were evacuated from the refinery as security forces braced for an attack on the compound. 

    The refinery has been under siege since Sunni rebels began a major military offense in northern Iraq last week.
  • Rouhani says Iran will do everything to protect Iraq's shrines

    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said he will do whatever it takes to protect revered Shia shrines in Iraq against Sunni rebels fighting the Baghdad government.

    "Dear Karbala, Dear Najaf, Dear Kadhimiyah and Dear Samarra, we warn the great powers and their lackeys and the terrorists, the great Iranian people will do everything to protect them," he said of the shrines in a speech in Khoram-abad, near the Iraq border.

    In his speech, Rouhani mentioned petitions signed by Iranians who said they were willing to fight in Iraq "to destroy the terrorists and protect the holy sites", which are visited by hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims annually.

    At least 5,000 Iranians have pledged online to defend Iraq's Shiite shrines against the Sunni extremists, a conservative news website in Iran reported.
  • Saudi Foreign Minister says the situation in Iraq shows signs of a "civil war"

    Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the deteriorating security situation in Iraq shows signs of a "civil war".

    "This grave situation that is storming Iraq carries with it the signs of civil war whose implications for the region we cannot fathom," he told a gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders in Jeddah.
  • US Treasury Secretary says there is "no military solution" to Iraq's problems

    US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the US is not looking for a military solution in Iraq.

    Speaking at a forum in Jerusalem, Lew said the US was concerned about the "grave situation" in Iraq.

    "As the President (Barack Obama) makes a decision on next steps, let me be clear that this is not primarily a military challenge," he said.

    "While it is evident that Iraq needs significantly more help to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces, there is no military solution that will solve Iraq's problems."
  • Iraqi PM urges tribes to renounce 'criminals'

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki has called on tribes to 
    renounce Sunni rebels who have taken major cities in a week-long offensive.

    "I call upon the tribes to renounce those who are killers and criminals who represent foreign agendas," he said in a televised speech.
  • 20 killed as rebels seize villages in north Iraq

    Clashes between rebels and security forces left 20 civilians dead as rebels seized three villages in northern Iraq.

    A local official said  the villages of Albu Hassan, Birwajli and Bastamli, in Salaheddin province fell on Wednesday.

  • Shia volunteers join the Iraqi army to fight Sunni rebels [Reuters] 
    Sunni rebels have have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces [Reuters] 
    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said he will do whatever it takes to protect revered Shia shrines from rebels [Reuters] 

    1 of 3

  • MSF calls for Iraq facilities to be spared after attack

    Medical charity MSF has appealed to warring factions in Iraq to spare medical staff and facilities after one of its clinics was badly damaged in an offensive by Sunni rebels.

    The clinic in the northern city of Tikrit, which has been overrun by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was damaged in a June 13 offensive, Olivier Maizoue, deputy head of MSF operations in Iraq, told the AFP news agency.

    "Since the start of the year... there have been huge waves of displacements all over the country," he said.

    "We chose to intervene in Tikrit, where there was a great influx of displaced people, and build a health centre there which was due to open this week."

    The clinic set up by Medecins Sans Frontieres was expected to serve up to 40,000 people.

    "Several hundred thousands of people have fled Mosul and the Anbar governorate and are now faced with very difficult conditions," MSF's head of mission in Iraq, Fabio Forgione, said in a statement.
  • UK's Cameron says Iraq's Sunni rebels 'plan' to attack Britain

    David Cameron said the crisis in Iraq will effect those in the UK [Reuters] 

    British Prime Minister David Cameron has accused Sunni rebels fighting in Iraq of planning to attack the UK.

    "I... disagree with those people who think this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq it won't affect us. It will," Cameron told parliament.

    "The people in that regime as well as trying to take territory are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom."
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