Reprisal attacks in Iraq; US prepares Syria strikes?
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a husseiniya, or Shi'ite mosque, in central Baghdad on Aug. 25, leaving at least 13 dead. Three were killed and several wounded in two other car bombings elsewhere in Baghdad. Another 23 were killed in car bombings at the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala and nearby al-Hilla. (IraqiNews.com, IraqiNews.com, IraqiNews.com, BBC News, NYT) A Kurdish MP in Iraq's parliament called on new Prime Minister Haidar Abadi to either arm the Kurdistan Regional Government or permit it to seek arms elsewhere. "It is crucial for the new government of Baghdad to give weapons to Peshmerga forces and train them as part of the Iraqi army or allow the Kurdistan Region to be able to buy weapons from other countries," said MP Shwan Mohammed Taha. "Today, Peshmerga forces protect 20% of Iraq's border and our demands are not unconstitutional. Putting Peshmerga forces in the security system of Iraq is a constitutional demand." (BasNews) Iranian Kurdish guerilla fighters that crossed the border to fight ISIS in the Jalawla and Khanaqen areas were prevented by the continued presence of Iranian government forces, according to the BasNews independent new agency. Tehran denies reports that Iranian forces are fighting in Iraq. (BasNews)
ISIS forces in Syria took a strategic air base in northeast Syria after fighting that cost more than 500 lives. The fall of the Tabqa base helps clear the way for an ISIS advance on Aleppo. In nearby Raqqa city, the ISIS capital, there was celebratory gunfire and the news was announced by mosques loudspeakers, a witness told Reuters. (Al Jazeera)
The Pentagon is moving to send surveillance aircraft, including drones, into Syrian airspace to gather intelligence on ISIS positions, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The Pentagon is preparing to conduct reconnaissance flights over Syria," an unnamed senior US official told the Journal. "There is no decision yet to do strikes, but in order to help make that decision, you want to get as much situational awareness as possible." Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the Damascus government must be involved in coordinating any air-strikes against ISIS on Syrian territory. (The Hill; Daily Star, Lebanon)