Iraq: Shi’ite militia blamed in mosque massacre

Gunmen opened fire inside a Sunni mosque in Iraq's eastern Diyala governorate, killing at least 68 people, Aug. 22. A suicide bomber broke into the Musab bin Omair Mosque during Friday prayers in the village of Imam Wais and detonated his explosives. He was followed by gunmen, who rushed in and opened fire on the worshippers. Initial reports blamed ISIS in the massacre, but reports later in the day blamed an unnamed Shi'ite militia, suggesting it was retaliation for a roadside bomb attack at a recruitment event organized by the militia.

Last month, Shi'ite militiamen executed 15 Sunni Muslims and hanged them from electricity poles in a public square in Baquba, Diyala's capital. In the wake of the mosque massacre, two influential Sunni politicians—deputy prime minister Saleh Mutlaq and parliament speaker Salim al-Jibouri—announced they are pulling out of talks on forming a new government until the investigation into the attack is completed. (RT, LAT,, Aug. 22; Reuters, July 30)

The chair of the ruling Iraqi National Alliance, Ibrahim al-Jaffari, met with US ambassador to Iraq Robert D. Beecroft to discuss progress on a new Iraqi government and a new bilateral security agreement. (Aswat al-Iaq)

On a visit to Erbil, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti pledged a military aid package to the Kurdish forces, including anti-tank weapons to Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region. Italian Prime Minister and head of the EU Commission Matteo Renzi also visited Baghdad and Erbil to discuss security developments and talk about supplying arms to the Peshmerga. (BasNews)

Kurdistan regional president Massuad Barzani has ordered the arrest of a number of Peshmerga commanders over their failure to protect Sinjar and other "Kurdish" towns from ISIS earlier this month. The commanders are to be tried by a Peshmerga special military court. (BasNews)

Note: The Yazidis, who constituted the majority in Sinjar before they were cleansed from the town by ISIS, do not consider themsleves Kurds. West of Mosul, Sinjar lies outside the Kurdistan Regional Government's territory. See map of Iraq governorates; map of Kurdish autonomous zone; map of position of Sinjar.