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Tag Archives: Iraq

Iraq considers next move after intercepting ‘world’s largest’ ransom for kidnapped Qataris

Officials at Baghdad International Airport became suspicious earlier this month when their X-ray machines could not see into 23 large bags unloaded from a Qatari plane, producing only a black image because the contents were wrapped in a special material impenetrable to detecting devices. They were further amazed when they opened the bags to discover that they contained hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in cash worth a total of $500m (£389m), says an Iraqi source.

It is now clear that the money was ransom for 24 Qataris, several of them leading members of the Qatari royal al-Thani family, and two Saudis who had been hunting with falcons with official permission in supposedly safe southern Iraq when they were kidnapped 16 months ago by a Shia militia task force. A deal to get them released has been complicated by negotiations involving Qatar and Iran as well as Shia and Sunni militias over the simultaneous evacuation of people long besieged in four towns, two Shia and two Sunni, in northern and southern  Syria respectively.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/qatari-royals-kidnapped-iraq-ransom-half-billion-shia-militia-syria-saudi-hunters-baghdad-a7703946.html

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Isis used 17 suicide car bombs ‘to help leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi flee Mosul’

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis and self-declared Caliph, escaped from the siege of Mosul two months ago when the road to the west was briefly re-opened by a fierce counter attack by Isis fighters, according to a senior Kurdish official. “Isis used 17 suicide car bombs from Mosul and some of their units from Syria to clear the road leading out of Mosul for a few hours,” said Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, in an interview with The Independent. He says that he and other Kurdish leaders believe that Isis would only carry out such an elaborate operation, in which they suffered heavy casualties, in order to bring al-Baghdadi to safety.

Source: Isis used 17 suicide car bombs ‘to help leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi flee Mosul’ | The Independent

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Middle East

 

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People in besieged Mosul Old City ‘dying of starvation’ as Isis shoots anyone who tries to flee

People trapped in the Old City of Mosul are dying of hunger because they have not received any food for almost three weeks according to a resident.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Karim, a 28-year-old taxi driver who lives in the ancient centre of Mosul, says that many people, including several he knows, one of them a friend, have already died of malnutrition.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-isis-iraq-starvation-dying-residents-patrick-cockburn-a7658311.html

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Iraqi government ‘made a mistake’ by attacking Mosul before capturing Isis sanctuaries

The Iraqi government made a mistake that will allow Isis to survive by seeking to capture Mosul before eliminating other Isis safe havens in northern and western Iraq to which its fighters can retreat, according to a senior Iraqi leader.

“It would have been better first to eliminate Daesh (Isis) sanctuaries to which they can retreat when Mosul falls,” says Najmaldin Karim, the Governor of the oil province of Kirkuk, in an interview with The Independent. He says that half of Kirkuk province is still held by Isis and cited, in particular, the Hawija area, a notorious stronghold south west of Kirkuk city of Isis and previously of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-iraq-isis-patrick-cockburn-kirkuk-governor-fall-of-city-beginning-sunni-arabs-a7654851.html

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Civilians in western Mosul are being shot at by Isis and Iraqi forces alike

Civilians trying to flee the besieged Isis-held enclave in west Mosul are being shot dead by Isis and Iraqi army snipers as they try to cross the Tigris River, says an eyewitness trapped inside the city with his family.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Jasim, a 33-year old Iraqi Sunni living in west Mosul near the 5th Bridge, said: “I want to rescue my mother and take her to the eastern part, but it is dangerous. Three people were killed in our neighbourhood trying to cross the river to the eastern side. They were shot dead by the snipers.”

Jasim explained that “Daesh (Isis) have snipers who cover the river bank between the 5th and 6th bridges”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/west-mosul-isis-battle-city-northern-iraq-army-coalition-forces-syria-daesh-islamic-state-sunni-a7652401.html

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Middle East

 

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When Mosul falls: Iraq may win the war, but risks losing the peace

As Iraqi forces close in on the last IS strongholds in Mosul, Iraqi experts, UN and international officials fear Baghdad could find it has won the war but lost the peace.Will military victory be followed by sectarian abuses or incompetent government administration which squander popular support and reopen the way to extremism of a new kind?Though expressed more diplomatically, this was the question which lay behind the Iraq component of Wednesday’s meeting in Washington of foreign ministers of the so-called global coalition to defeat Islamic State.

Source: When Mosul falls: Iraq may win the war, but risks losing the peace | Middle East Eye

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Isis’ losses in Syria and Iraq will make it harder for them to recruit another Khalid Masood

Iraqi forces are stalled and suffering heavy casualties in their assault on the last Isis fighters defending close-packed buildings in the Old City of Mosul. Civilian loss of life is very high as US aircraft, Iraqi helicopters and artillery, try to target Isis strongpoints in a small area in which at least 300,000 civilians are trapped and unable to reach safety.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/khalid-masood-westminster-attack-isis-syria-iraq-hard-to-recruit-a7647856.html

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Middle East

 

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If this battle for Mosul ends in defeat for Isis, we shouldn’t feel too optimistic about what comes next

After Isis captured Mosul in June 2014, people in Baghdad waited in terror to see if its fighters would go on to storm the capital. There was very little to stop them as the Iraqi army in northern Iraq broke up and fled south. Many government ministers and MPs rushed to the airport and took refuge in Jordan. When an American military delegation arrived to review the defences of Baghdad, they were told by a senior Iraq official “to look to see which ministers had put fresh sandbags around their ministries. Those that have done so like myself will stay and fight; where you see old sandbags it means the minister doesn’t care because he is intending to run.”

Two and a half years later, it is Isis fighters who are battling street-to-street to hold onto west Mosul, their last big stronghold in Iraq, in the face of multiple assaults by a revived Iraqi army backed by US airpower. The last road out of the city to the west was cut by Iraqi government forces on 1 March and they have also captured one of the half-ruined bridges over the Tigris River that bisects Mosul, which they are planning to repair using US-supplied pontoons. Iraqi military units backed by some 50 US airstrikes a day are getting close to the complex of buildings that used to house the government headquarters in the centre of the city.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/isis-mosul-iraq-caliphate-islamic-state-a7608981.html

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Victory over Isis in Mosul could mean defeat in Syria’s Deir Ezzor 250 miles west

“The re-conquest of western Mosul begins.” Or so several headlines in the Arab press have announced. And it’s true that the Iraqi army and its Shia militia allies and a few token soldiers from the US, Turkey, Britain and Kurdish forces have captured some small villages abandoned by Isis near the old Mosul airport. But it is likely to be weeks – perhaps months – before they can claim victory over Isis in Mosul. And even if they are successful, the real blow may fall on a Syrian city hundreds of miles to the west.

For behind the dust clouds and shellfire of the latest Iraqi armoured offensive against Isis in western Mosul – and the usual promises of success from the Iraqi prime minister and assorted American generals – lies the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, its government defenders and perhaps 90,000 civilians now isolated by Isis into two pockets of resistance in the desert. Supplied by helicopter and led by a ferocious Druze Syrian general, the regime’s forces have held out for five years. But if Isis breaks out from Mosul in the coming weeks, its fighters are likely to speed 340 miles west to the surrounded Syrian city to support their comrades there. Victory in Mosul, in other words, could mean defeat in Deir Ezzor.

Source: Victory over Isis in Mosul could mean defeat in Syria’s Deir Ezzor 250 miles west

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Iraqi forces begin bitter battle for Mosul in effort to destroy Isis

Iraqi government forces have started their offensive aimed at capturing the western half of Mosul, Isis’s last big urban stronghold in the country. There are an estimated 4,000 jihadi fighters defending the close-packed houses and narrow alleyways in the half of the city west of the Tigris River, which is inhabited by some 650,000 civilians.

Iraqi paramilitary federal police and interior ministry units are advancing from the south of Mosul with the initial aim of seizing the city airport. But the heaviest fighting is likely to come when the soldiers get into built up areas where the militant group has been digging tunnels and holes cut through the walls of houses so they can conduct a mobile defence away from artillery fire and airstrikes.

Source: Iraqi forces begin bitter battle for Mosul in effort to destroy Isis

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Middle East

 

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