Tag Archives: Baghdad

US to Double Number of Ground Troops in Iraq

White House Also Seeks Another $5.6 Billion for War

by Jason Ditz, November 07, 2014

The White House has announced that President Obama has authorized a plan to more than double the number of US ground troops in Iraq, signing off on another 1,500 troops.

Officials declined to offer details about the timings of the deployments, or what the massive number of new “advisers” will actually be doing on the ground in Baghdad and Irbil.

Last week, however, Gen. Martin Dempsey began pushing the idea of moving the “advisers” out of Baghdad and Irbil and onto the front line with Iraqi ground troops in combat against ISIS.

The White House also revealed they are pushing the lame duck Congress to agree to another $5.6 billion for funding the war. Most of the cost of the war so far has been buried in other Pentagon funding for “contingencies,” though repeated escalations are making it harder to do this.

That’s likely to lead to a clash between the administration and the incoming, super-hawkish Congress, which is planning to push for an outright ground war in Iraq and Syria, and will no doubt use its power of the purse as leverage to try to force such escalations.

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Ground Role for Troops in Iraq Likely

Gen. Dempsey Warns of Possible ISIS Attacks on Baghdad

by Jason Ditz, October 12, 2014

Though the civilian leadership in the Obama Administration is continuing to insist that they’ve ruled out a ground war in Iraq, top Pentagon brass continue to indicate the exact opposite.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey today said his “instinct at this point” is that the war will eventually require the “advisers,” US ground troops sent to Iraq, will have to engage in ground combat, particularly in the push to retake the major city of Mosul.

Gen. Dempsey went on to say that ISIS is successfully blending in to the Sunni population in towns along the outskirts of Baghdad, and that “indirect fire” from mortars and artillery against the Iraqi capital are virtually certain in the coming days.

He went on to say that last week’s decision to start using Apache helicopters in attacks on ISIS was a result of ISIS nearing Baghdad, and the US effort to try to protect the airport, saying it’s a vital US interest to keep the airport open.

Dempsey insisted he believes Mosul will be “the decisive battle” in the campaign, though other officials have indicated they don’t believe Iraq will even attempt to retake the city, ISIS’ largest, for at least a year.

Blackwater trial for 2007 shooting in Iraq begins closing arguments

Four former security guards for Blackwater Worldwide, which was renamed Academi in 2011, have been facing trial over the past couple of months in the U.S. for the 2007 shooting deaths of 14 civilians in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to ABC News, a federal prosecutor told a jury Wednesday the four in question “unleashed a hail of gunfire” into a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in the heart of Baghdad.  Besides the 14 who were killed, 18 others suffered from various wounds related to the shooting, none of which were fatal.

Many of the victims were shot in the back as they tried to flee the Square, noted federal prosecutor Anothony Asuncion.  Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Nicholas Slatten are said to have fired into the crowd which caused the exodus from the Square.

Slough, Heard, and Liberty are facing charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and firearms related offenses, all of which could carry upwards of 30 years, according to the Raw Story.

Slatten is being charged separately for the shooting death of Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y who was driving a white Kia in the area.  Prosecutors are saying the shooting death of Al Rubia’y is what prompted the civilians to flee in the first place, causing the incident to unfold.

The jury has heard from some of the family members of the victims who were killed.  One witness had recounted how his nine-year-old son’s brains had fallen out at his feet during the incident.

According to Reuters, a member of Blackwater unit Raven 23 also told jurors how Slatten had called all Iraqis “animals” and how he had boasted of shooting a man in the head, turning his head into “a canoe.”

Testimony will be heard from the defense later this week and deliberations are expected to begin next week.

Charges against Heard and Liberty concerning the death of five civilians in the incident have already been dismissed.

Escalation: Obama Broadens War Goals

By Jason Ditz, August 17, 2014

The US air war in Iraq has moved into its second week, and they are continuing to announce new, broader war goals virtually every today, with the White House today announcing a new notification was sent to Congress.

President Obama informed Congress that the latest war goal, the Kurdish capture of Mosul Dam, would require US airstrikes to support it, and claimed the loss of the dam would be a threat to the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Obama initially made the war just about protecting US troops in Irbil, then expanded it to Baghdad as well, then broadened it further to denying ISIS territory, and is now focusing on the Mosul Dam.

The Kurdish Peshmerga reported taking “most” of the dam today, backed by the US strikes. Holding it is another matter, as the dam has been heavily contested for awhile. The ever-broadening US war goals don’t stop there, of course.

On Thursday, Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi reported a deal with the US on putting troops on the ground in the province, along with a substantial round of airstrikes aiming to chase ISIS out of the area.

The push for constant escalation was somewhat slowed last week when it was revealed that the “trapped Yazidi” crisis was largely untrue, and the Pentagon has since been openly talking about looking around for other opportunities for “humanitarian” intervention.

They won’t have to look far, because after the long US occupation, Iraq is still a trainwreck in a lot of places. The ISIS incursions have only made matters worse, and the US war will only add to that humanitarian crisis.

Telling in how long the US war is liable to take is that the British military, which is talking about joining the war to a limited extent to back the US, is saying their role will last months.

Pentagon: Armed US Drones Flying Over Baghdad

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

While reporting yet more troops arriving in Iraq, the Pentagon revealed another sign of the growing US escalation into the country, saying that armed US Predator drones are flying over Baghdad today.

According to the Pentagon, the drones are part of an operation meant to protect the US “advisers” on the ground as they assess the status of Iraqi military forces in the capital.

The Pentagon reported that about 40 surveillance flights a day have been being conducted, and the Predators will be “augmenting” the US flights over Iraq.

The US drones are being flown out of a base in Kuwait, but aren’t alone in Baghdad airspace, as Iran is reportedly also flying surveillance drones over Baghdad, using a Baghdad airfield.

 

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ISIL tightens grip on Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group disavowed by al-Qaeda and is responsible for the recent state of turmoil in the Middle East, has captured the city of Tal Afar and made claims of mass execution over the weekend.

The city of Tal Afar is close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was captured last week along with the arms depots within the city.  According to the NBC News, the same weapons captured in Mosul, mostly rocket launchers and machineguns, were used in the seizure of Tal Afar.

Capturing the city is a strategic move by ISIL who also have captured cities in Syria.  Tal Afar is only 93 miles from the Syrian border, making it an opportune route to connect ISIL forces and supplies across the northern parts of the two countries.

ISIL also released photos this past weekend of their members executing hundreds of captured Iraqi soldiers and civilians.  According to RT, the photos were posted to the Twitter account associated with ISIL, and a spokesman for the group claimed the pictures and killings took place just north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The group has had their sights set on attacking Baghdad, which has prompted the U.S. to strengthen the security of the embassy in the city.  About 150 U.S. Marines arrived at the embassy to protect U.S. citizens and diplomats.  The embassy itself though will stay open, said the U.S. State Department, but some of the staff will be relocated temporarily.

This comes a few days after planeloads of other American diplomats were evacuated from the Iraqi airbase of Balad, another city just north of Baghdad.

British officials in Baghdad said they have no intention to evacuate their staff from what is designated the “Green Zone” in the city, but they claimed to have witnessed large groups of individuals lining up at the main airport while many others withdrew money from local banks.

The U.S. is considering talks with Iran in the coming days to cooperate in combating ISIL in Iraq.  Iran has already sent their Revolutionary Guard to combat ISIL forces, while the U.S. government is considering sending drones and other air support to aid the Iranian fighters.

Iraq is slowly crumbling inwards

With Kurdish forces taking over various airbases and abandoned military facilities in northern Iraq, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continuing to move south towards Baghdad, Iraq is set to collapse in on itself.

Yesterday, the city of Kirkuk was seized by Kurdish forces in the north, which has long been sought as a potential capital for an autonomous Kurdish state, and for its rich oilfields.  The city is outside of what is considered the Kurdish autonomous region, but Kurds in the area claim it to be their historical capitol.

ISIL claimed the city of Mosul on June 6 after Iraqi military and policing forces abandoned the city, leaving behind military grade weaponry and tanks.

The group has begun to set the roots for what appears to be a Sharia law based region in the city as they put forth an 11-point charter with rules against drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, while requiring people to pray five times a day and women to stay indoors unless of an emergency.

For ISIL, they now plan to move on Baghdad, which a spokesman for the group said, “we have an account to settle there.”  Similar threats to Baghdad, and the general danger spreading throughout the country, saw three planeloads of Americans evacuated from an air base just north of the capital.

President Obama responded to the recent unrest in Iraq saying he has not ruled anything out in terms of how to handle this delicate situation.  “What we’ve seen over last couple of days indicates degree to which Iraq is going to need more help,” the president said.

The central Iraqi government has been aware of the growing threat of insurgent groups for over a month now, and the New York Times has reported Iraqi officials have made various requests for military aid in the form of airstrikes across the region.

Spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, told the Times, “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support.”

Russian Foreign Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying, “What is happening in Iraq is an illustration of the total failure of the adventure undertaken primarily by the U.S. and Britain and which they have let slip completely out of control.”