Obama orders more troops to Iraq

Another 130 US troops arrived in northern Iraq on Aug. 12 on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to assess the scope of the humanitarian crisis facing thousands of displaced civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar. Kurdish sources said four US Osprey aircraft landed in Erbil, where the military advisors disembarked and were greeted by officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On a visit to California's Camp Pendleton, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel emphasized: "This is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation. We're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in in Iraq." (AP, Rudaw)

But the Pentagon acknowledged that ISIS is changing tactics in response to the US air-strikes, in a way that could increase the risk of civilian casualties. "One of the things that we have seen with the [ISIS] forces is that where they have been in the open, they are now starting to dissipate and to hide amongst the people," said Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director for operations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "The targeting in this is going to become more difficult." (Fox News)

While the US is resisting KRG requests for more arms to fight ISIS, French president François Hollande announced an emergency supply or arms to the Kurdish forces. He said in a press statment Aug. 12 that the "arms shipment will be delivered in the coming hours and that the authorities in Baghdad agreed on that." The statement cited the "catastrophic situation" in northern Iraq, but did not make note of what kind of weapons will be sent. France also called for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers to evaluate Kurdish demands for weapons and relief shipments. (IraqiNews.com, AFP)

An Mi-17 Peshmerga helicopter carrying aid from the KRG to stranded Yazidis on Mount Sinjar crashed on Aug. 12, killing the pilot and injuring other passengers, including a Yazidi member Iraq's parliament, Vian Dakhil. The helicopter, which had been mobbed by desperate Yazidis families, was brought down by sheer weight of numbers. (NYT, Daily Mail)

The KRG's Independent Human Rights Committee issued a statement calling for international "recognition of IS crimes against Kurdish Yazidi people as a genocide." Said committee spokesman Mohammed Gomashini: "What has taken place against Kurdish Yazidi people by IS is a crime against humanity and genocide based on the principles of the United Nation." (Of course this is a somewhat politicized formulation, as not all Yazidis consider themselves Kurds.) (BasNews)

The head of the Human Rights Committee in the KRG parliament, Soran Omar, warned that the number of refugees in the Kurdistan Region has passed 2 million, and appealed to the international community for urgent aid. "There are 1,200,000 Arab refugees in the Kurdistan Region based on the latest statistics and reports of UN," said Omar. "The number of Mosul refugees in the Kurdistan Region is about 600,000 as well as 200,000 Sinjar refugees, which means the number of refugees in the Kurdistan Region has reached two million." (BasNews)

Iraq's central government reported some progress in resisting the ISIS advance to the south. Authorities in Anbar governorate, just outside Baghdad,  announced Aug. 12 that Haditha city, west of Ramadi, has been secured from ISIS militants. (IraqiNews.com) But that same day, a wave of bombings in Baghdad killed at least eight and injured over 50. (IraqiNews.com, APA)

With much of northern Iraq's oil infrastructure now in the hands of ISIS, the jihadist group is rapidly augmenting its warchest by selling petrol through black market networks—netting nearly $1 million a day, according to local truckers and officials who detailed the bonanza to the industry newsletter Iraq Oil Report. (Fortune, July 24)

With the north in choas, Iraq's oil industry continues to boom in the south. PetroChina has just completed construction of a new pipeline capable of carrying 1 million barrels a day from Missan governorate to the southern terminals at Basra. Missan output has surged to 250,000 barrels a day as new oilfields come online, the province's production is expected to soon hit 1 million barrels per day. (Azzaman) The boom in the south represents gains for Chinese capital in the struggle for Iraq's oil.