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.

  • Back to Baiji. Salah Hashim, a legal adviser to the Iraqi League, a UK-based rights group, has told Al Jazeera that the loss of the refinery will hurt the government in Baghdad. All oil production from the refinery would be channeled north, meaning a huge loss of revenue for Baghdad. 

  • The ever enigmatic AP has just snapped this tidbit: Kurdish leader cites 'new reality' in Iraq as US secretary of state returns for second day of crisis talks.

    We'll have more for you soon... 

  • [AP] 

    Here's more from AP: The president of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region declared 
    that "we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq'' as the country considered new leadership for its Shia-led government as an immediate step to curb a Sunni rebellion.

    Barzani told Kerry that Kurds are seeking "a solution for the crisis that we have witnessed".

  • To give Barzani's comments some context, this is what he told CNN yesterday:

    "Iraq is obviously falling apart. And it’s obvious that the federal or central government has lost control over everything. 

    "We did not cause the collapse of Iraq. It is others who did. And we cannot remain hostages for the unknown.

    "The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold."

  • More than 1,000 killed this month

    The UN's human rights monitors say at least 1,075 people have been killed in Iraq during June, most of them civilians. 

    The UN in Iraq said at least 757 civilians were killed and 599 injured in Nineveh, Diyala and Salheddin provinces from June 5-22.

    Spokesman Rupert Colville said the figure "should be viewed very much as a minimum''.

    The figures included some verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings of civilians, police,
    soldiers who had stopped fighting.

    He said at least another 318 people were killed and 590 injured during the same time in Baghdad and areas in southern Iraq.


  • The Daily Show zooms in on the latest developments in Iraq.


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    The Daily Show zooms in on the latest developments in Iraq.

  • Iraqi air strikes killed at least 26 people on Tuesday as security forces held off attacks on a strategic town and an oil refinery.

    The air strikes wounded also 18 people, medical source at the Baiji hospital said.

    In the Husseibah area of Anbar province, west of Baghdad, another air strike killed seven fighters and six civilians, the AFP news agency reported.

  • Iraq's Sunni rebels prove formidable enemy
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

  • The AP news agency has suggested that the US is trying to wake up the "Awakening Councils" of Sunni militia in an attempt to defeat ISIL.

    The news agency says the Obama administration is hoping to persuade Sunni armed groups known as Sahwa, or Awakening Councils, to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as they did against other al-Qaeda linked groups nearly 10 years ago.

    The Sahwa programme was a US-funded scheme against Sunni violence when it was at its height in the middle of the last decade.

    The agency says it is unknown how the U
    S and its Middle East allies would urge Sunni tribes to resist ISIL without being funded, armed or assisted by US troops as they once were.

    It likely will require a new government in Baghdad to support the militiamen who have been sidelined by Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
    by Shafik.Mandhai edited by Graeme Baker 6/25/2014 6:52:29 AM
  • While the US hopes to reach out to members of the Sahwa, ISIL related accounts on Twitter are posting pictures claiming to be of Sahwa members pledging allegiance to rebels. This picture reportedly taken in Kirkuk shows former members of the army, police and Sahwa taking part in a repentance ceremony and pledging loyalty to ISIL.

    by Shafik.Mandhai edited by Graeme Baker 6/25/2014 7:03:43 AM

  • Iraqi State TV has broadcasted footage it said was of government forces in control of the contested oil refinery at Baiji. Read more here.

  • An attack near Iran's western border with Iraq has killed three Iranian border guards, the semi fficial Fars news agency reported.

    The troops were killed on Tuesday night while patrolling along the border in western Kermanshah province.

    A border outpost commander was among those killed, Fars quoted a local security official ,Shahriar Heidari, as saying.

    Heidari said an unspecified "terrorist group'' was behind the attack, but did not elaborate and no other details were immediately available.

    The last attack was in October 2013, when fighters from the armed Kurdish rebel group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK, clashed with Iranian forces near the Iraq border.
  • Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to bow down to international pressure and form a national 'salvation' government.

    "The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process," Maliki said in a televised address.

    "It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters," said the Iraqi leader.

    Maliki's electoral bloc won by far the most seats in April 30 parliamentary elections with 92, nearly three times as many as the next biggest party, and the incumbent himself tallied 720,000 personal votes, also far and away the most. [AFP]

    by Shafik.Mandhai edited by Faisal Edroos 6/25/2014 10:02:35 AM
  • Morocco arrests group accused of sending fighters to Iraq and Syria

    Moroccan police have arrested six people for allegedly recruiting fighters for rebel groups in Iraq and Syria. 

    The interior ministry said the arrests were carried out in the city of Fez in coordination with the domestic intelligence agency (DGST).

    "(This cell) specialised in recruiting and sending Moroccan volunteers to fight in the ranks of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq... where they receive military training in the use of weapons and bomb-making techniques," the ministry said in a statement.

    Concern has grown in Morocco in the past year about the return of battle-hardened fighters who have gone to fight in Syria, currently estimated at more than 1,000.

  • Rebels from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate on a police vehicle in Mosul [Reuters] 

  • Jordan ready to defend itself from Iraq "aggression"

    The Jordanian military has said it is ready to defend itself against "any aggression" from Iraq after Sunni rebels seized large swathes of territory in the country.

    "The Jordanian armed forces are capable of defending the kingdom from any aggression," border guard commander Brigadier Saber Mahayrah told reporters as they toured the border area.

    "We will not allow anyone to cross illegally," he said as armoured personnel carriers, Humvees and tanks deployed to the area.

    Mahayrah made his remarks two days after Jordan reinforced its border.

    "The Jordanian army has dispatched more troops, tanks, rocket launchers and armoured personnel carriers to the border with Iraq," a security official told the AFP news agency on Monday.

    "The army will not tolerate any kind of infiltration."
  • UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has pushed for a political solution to the turmoil in Iraq in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.

    This is the moment for all the people to come together, preserve Iraq and fight terrorism and an insurgency... what we need to see is the leaders of all of these communities speaking out for the future of a unified Iraqi state.

    Hammond said the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) posed a serious threat to Iraq, its neighbours and the wider region.

    If ISIL gains control of a space in Syria or Iraq it will use that position as a platform to launch attacks on GCC countries... it [ISIL] will be a source of instability in the region and beyond.

    The Defence Secretary also added that the government of Nouri al-Maliki would have to do more to address the grievances of the people.

    There needs to be a change of tempo, and a signal to the Sunni and Kurdish communities that the government wants to change course and become a government of all of Iraq.

  • US accuses Syria of launching airstrikes in Iraq

    The US has accused Syria of launching airstrikes into western Iraq in an attempt to slow an insurgency fighting both the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

    US Officials said the strikes appeared to be the work of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which is locked in a bloody civil war with opposition groups. 

    The target of the attacks was the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been fighting along with the rebels opposed to Assad and has since moved swiftly across the border into Iraq.

    The White House said intervention by Syria was not the way to stem the insurgents, who have taken control of several cities in northern and western Iraq.

    "The solution to the threat confronting Iraq is not the intervention of the Assad regime, which allowed ISIL to thrive in the first place," said Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman. "The solution to Iraq's security challenge does not involve militias or the murderous Assad regime, but the strengthening of the Iraqi security forces to combat threats."
    [Associated Press]
  • US Senator says Obama needs approval for Iraq

    A leading US Senate Democrat has said President Barack Obama needs congressional approval before initiating any military action in Iraq.

    Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said the crisis in Iraq was not the type of situation where the president could act unilaterally, and he would need to seek congressional authorisation.
    [Associated Press]
  • Attacks kill 12 south of Baghdad

    A suicide bombing and shelling killed 12 people and wounded at least 23 south of Baghdad, officials said, as Iraq struggles to stem a major Sunni rebellion.

    The bomber detonated explosives in a market in Mahmudiyah, while shellfire struck various areas of the town.
  • UN envoy: 'Iraq can be saved' if leaders act

    The leading UN envoy in Iraq has said "Iraq can be saved" if political leaders reach across religious and sectarian lines to bring the country together, take military action against Sunni extremists who have captured large areas, and stick to the constitution.

    Nikolay Mladenov told UN reporters that the advance toward Baghdad b Sunni rebels "has stalled." But he warned that the conflict could easily become "a sectarian war."

    "The situation is grave, but Iraq can be saved and the country can be brought together," Mladenov said. "It demands a security operation but it also demands a political process."
    [Associated Press]
  • Iraq's Maliki rules out emergency government

    Prime minister says such a move would be "coup", in direct rebuttal of US efforts to tackle rising Sunni rebellion.
  • Kurds plan boosting oil exports
    Iraq's self-ruling Kurds
    outlined plans on Wednesday to ramp up oil exports now that their forces had seized control of Iraq's main northern oil fields, move that could tear up the settlement holding Iraq together since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

    Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdish natural resources minister,  told Reuters the Kurds had plans to increase their exports eight-fold by the end of 2015, including pumping oil from the fields taken by Kurdish fighters two weeks ago.

    "We expect to be able to export one million barrels per day by the end of next year, including crude from Kirkuk," he said, although he insisted the Kurds would share the proceeds with Baghdad. "We want to  work with Baghdad under the constitution, and they will get their share of the oil they export from Kirkuk."

    Kurdish oil sales are firmly opposed by the central government in Iraq which says they violate the constitution. Increasing them to such levels would radically alter the  balance of power in Iraq, potentially requiring the central government to seek payment from the Kurds for some revenue, rather than the other way around.

    Two weeks ago Kurdish "peshmerga" troops took control of Kirkuk - a city Kurds consider their ancestral capital - and outlying rural areas rich in oil, expanding their territory by more than a third. [REUTERS]
  • Our latest story on the political situation in Iraq. Read it here.

  • Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, says Syria carried out air attacks on armed rebels inside Iraqi territory this week.

    Maliki told the BBC that the Syrian jets had bombed fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant armed group near the border town of al-Qaim.

    Syrian state media has denied the country has carried out attacks on Iraq. [Reuters]
    by Tamila Varshalomidze edited by Graeme Baker 6/26/2014 8:52:36 AM
  • According to the caption, this video shows the aftermath of an attack by Syrian jets in al-Qaim, Iraq.
    اثار القصف الذي قام به الطيران السوري على مدينة القائم ...الانبار 24-6-2014
    by iraqi spring via YouTube

  • This one shows the effects of a jet strike on a fuel station in Rutba. The
    voiceover, off camera, says two rockets hit two separate areas in Rutba.

    اثر اعتداء الطيران السوري على قضاء الرطبه بتاريخ 24-6-2014
    by abdo allah almslm via YouTube
  • Local estimates of casualties in Rutba and al-Qaim are 60 people killed, and double that figure injured.
  • Reuters reports that three army helicopters have landed inside the university stadium of rebel-controlled Tikrit city, leading to fierce clashes with militants there. A source said fighting centred around the university compound. Tikrit in northern Iraq fell to Sunni rebels on June 12.

    We'll have more when it comes through.
  • Iraqi parliament to meet next week to form new government

    Iraq's vice president has called on parliament to convene next Tuesday, in the the first step towards forming a new government, to present a united front against a rapidly advancing Sunni rebellion.

    Khudeir al-Khuzaie issued a decree ordering the 328-member parliament to meet. 

    Constitutionally the next step would be to elect a speaker and two deputies, then within 30 days to choose a new president who will ask the largest bloc to choose a prime minister and form the new government..
    [Associated Press]
  • Iraqi Kurdish President visits disputed Kirkuk 

    The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, has visited Kirkuk for the first time since forces from the autonomous region took full control of the city.

    Kurdish forces moved into bases deserted by the Iraqi army two weeks ago in Kirkuk, which lies just outside the formal boundary of the northern region and is a centre of Iraq's oil industry.

  • Shia volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight ISIL, take part in military-style training in Basra [Reuters] 
    Shia volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight ISIL, take part in military-style training in Najaf [Reuters]
    Shia volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight ISIL, take part in military-style training in Kerbala [Reuters] 

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  • Iraqi PM says Syria carried out air strikes on Iraq border

    Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said the Syrian air force carried out air strikes targeting rebels on the Syrian side of the Iraq-Syria border.
    Maliki told the BBC he "welcomed" any such strike against rebel fighters, but noted Baghdad did not request the aerial raids which took place on Tuesday.

    The strikes came after Sunni rebels took control of the Al-Qaim border town on the Iraqi side of the frontier, providing them a strategic route into conflict-hit Syria, where an insurgency is also active.
  • Israel offers to help Arab nations over Iraq crisis

    Israel has offered to help "moderate" Arab nations threatened by a lightning offensive by Sunni rebels in Iraq, as the country's top diplomat met with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Kerry at a meeting in Paris that "the extremists currently operating in Iraq will try to challenge the stability in the entire Gulf region, first of all in Kuwait," a statement from his office said.

    "Israel could provide effective and reliable assistance to moderate Arab states who are dealing with extremists," it added, without going into specific details.

    Lieberman said Israeli interests were converging with moderate Arab nations "with both sides dealing with the threat of Iran, world jihad and Al-Qaeda, as well as the spill-over of conflicts in Syria and in Iraq to neighbouring countries."

    "Today, there is a basis for the creation of a new diplomatic-political structure in the Middle East," his office said in the statement.
  • Thousands of Iraqi Christians pour into Erbil

    Around two thousand Iraqi Christians have entered the Kurdish city of Erbil, fleeing fighting in and around the city of Mosul. 

    An ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) artillery offensive against Christian villages in the north of the country on Wednesday sent thousands seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish enclave. 

    Having fled their homes, they are now living in a sports centre in Ankawa, a Christian area in the capital. 

    Many at the sports centre have told the Associated Press news agency they want to leave Iraq entirely.

    "We won't have a future here in Iraq, never. Now I want to emigrate to a European country. Now, at this moment," said Iman Abdul Aziz Majid.
    [Associated Press]
  • Saudi's King Abdullah orders steps to protect kingdom from Iraq fallout

    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has ordered "all necessary measures" to protect the kingdom against any potential "terrorist threats", an apparent reference to the crisis in neighbouring Iraq.

    State news agency SPA, said the monarch ordered the unspecified measures after he chaired a meeting of the country's national security council to discuss fallout from security developments in the region.
  • Q&A: 'Perhaps the last chance to save Iraq'

    UK defence secretary says Iraq risks disintegration if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to change course.
  • Highlights from British Foreign Secretary William Hague press conference in Iraq: 

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  • Iraqi women wait outside displacement camp today near Mousul, conditions very poor. #gettyimages #gettyimagesnews #iraq #women #displaced #idp
    by plattys1 via Instagram

  • On the Kurdish side of the checkpoint between ISIL controlled Mosul and Erbil which like the rest of Kurdistan is secured by the Kurdish Peshmerga. This family will continue on to Erbil where an unknown number have made their temporary homes with family and friends or in hotels or other unauthorised forms of shelter. Andrew Quilty / Oculi / NOT ON ASSIGNMENT. 26.6.2014 #erbil #mosul #iraq #kurdistan #refugees #reportage #photojournalism #family
    by andrewquilty via Instagram

  • Iraqi Army 17th Division troops in northern Babylon Province, the area U.S. troops formerly called the Triangle of Death. This afternoon.
    by cjchivers via Instagram

  • Iraq's al-Sadr calls for emergency government
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    One of Iraq's most powerful Shia leaders has joined a chorus of calls for a national unity government. 

    Moqtadr Al Sadr says Iraq risks spiraling into chaos without a change of leadership.

    Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reports from Baghdad
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