Iraq Theater

More US troops to Iraq —on whose side?

The Pentagon plans to send some 600 additional troops to Iraq to help launch a long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS in the coming weeks. Added to the 560 new troops announced in July, this will bring total US troop strength in Iraq to over 5,000. Most of the new troops will be deployed to Qayyarah, an Iraqi air-base also known as Q-West, about 40 miles south of Mosul that has become the key staging base for the offensive. Some also will be deployed to the al-Asad base, which is further west in Anbar province. (LAT, Sept. 28)

Iraq: protest Kurdish detention of Yazidi woman

Amnesty International is demanding that Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) immediately end the "shocking and arbitrary" detention of a Yazidi woman who has been held without trial for nearly two years after surviving captivity at the hands of ISIS. Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Babira village in Nineva governorate, has been detained by the KRG since October 2014, accused of complicity with ISIS forces who killed three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters when they arrived at the house where she was being held captive in Zummar village. She is currently detained at a prison in Erbil, denied access to family and counsel. She gave birth to a daughter while in custody.

Bill Weinberg explains the origins of ISIS

Bill Weinberg rants against the conspiranoid notion that the US intentionally created ISIS, dismissed as a "fairy tale" by secular and progressive supporters of the Syrian Revolution. He instead examines the actual political context for the emergence of ISIS, and argues for solidarity with the pro-democratic forces on the ground in Syria that are actually fighting the "Islamic State"—especially the Rojava Kurds. This YouTube video is a second entry in the rebooted version of the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade vlog. We again ask viewers to please forgive the imperfections (e.g. the low volume on vocal track), we are still working out the bugs! Watch this website for the next episode, coming soon...

Iraq hangs 36 for Camp Speicher massacre

Officials in the Iraqi governorate of Dhiqar on Aug. 21 carried out the hanging of 36 men convicted for their participation in the Camp Speicher massacre of June 2014. The event infamously involved the kidnapping and killing of 1,700 military recruits by presumed ISIS militants after the fall of the base outside Tikrit. The massacre has since been known as one of the greatest ISIS atrocities in the country. The executions were performed in Dhiqar's Nasiriyah prison and overseen by governor Yahya al-Nasseri and the justice minister. Al-Nasseri has recently fast-tracked the execution of convicted terrorists following last month's suicide bombing in Baghdad. These executions have drawn heavy criticism from advocacy groups for ignoring international judicial standards.

UN: ISIS genocide continues in northern Iraq

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern for the human rights violations faced by the Yazidi minority in Northern Iraq on Aug. 3, stating that actions of the Islamic State (IS) may amount to genocide. Two years ago the IS attacked the Sinjar area in Iraq killing nearly 5,000 individuals. The statement claims that 3,200 Yazidi women and children remain in captivity and are subjected to nearly unimaginable violence. The Secretary-General proclaimed these acts may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide. The UN encouraged the Iraqi government to bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice, with a fair trials and due process, while supporting the survivors.

Iraq: keep abusive militias out of Mosul campaign

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on July 31 urged Iraqi military commanders to prevent historically abusive militias from participating in the campaign to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS). Last March the Iraqi army began working with Kurdish Peshmerga and affiliates of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to launch a ground offensive against the IS, which has been holding Mosul since June 2014. Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Brigades, officially stated  in late June that the PMF would be taking part in the liberation of the city. HRW has stressed, however, that the PMF has a long reported history of abuses, including summary killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and the destruction of homes. In the May campaign to retake Fallujah, there were numerous reports of PMF members abusing civilians, performing executions, and mutilating corpses despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's prior declaration that the PMF would not enter the city. In light of the PMF's various reported offenses, HRW stated that the Iraqi army has a duty to protect the civilian population and hold militia fighters accountable for past war crimes.

Iraq: 560 more US troops for Mosul offensive

The US will send an additional 560 troops to Iraq to help secure a newly retaken air-base as a staging hub for the long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during an unannounced visit to the country July 11. Most of the new troops will be devoted to the perparing the Qayara airbase, some 64 kilometers south of Mosul. They will help Iraqi forces planning the drive on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. The increase brings the total US force in Iraq to 4,647. Unofficially, that figure is probably closer to 6,000, as troops who deploy on temporary assignments are not included in the Pentagon's official tally. Taqqadum, a base in Anbar governorate where US troops train Iraqis., served a key role in the taking of Ramadi late last year, and more recently Fallujah. (Al Jazeera, WP)

UK entry into Iraq war not justified: report

The findings of the seven-year inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, into Britain's role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq were delivered on July 6 in the form of a scathing verdict against former prime minister Tony Blair and his administration, stating that the war was based on "flawed intelligence and assessments" and had been launched before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted." Tthe Chilcot Inquiry concluded that the "judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction—WMD—were presented with a certainty that was not justified... There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein. Additionally, "[t]he planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate."

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