Tag Archives: Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

ISIS continues spreading violence as ‘children are being beheaded’

In a video interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, Chaldean-American leader Mark Arabo has described the current situation for none Muslim civilians in the Islamic State as a “Christian genocide.”

During the video, Arabo described how thousands of Christians in Iraq are fleeing to neighboring countries as violence is continued to be spread by ISIS.  Specifically, Arabo told Mann, “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

“There’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick,” Arabo said.  “They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.”

Graphic images of the violence can be found here at Catholic Online.

Opposing Views is also reporting a surge of systemic violence towards non-Sunni Muslims in the Islamic State saying Christians, Kurds, and other Muslim denominations are facing similar levels of violence.  This violence has killed at least 5,500 civilians, wounded close to 12,000, and driven some 1.2 million from their homes since January according to a July report from the Guardian.

ISIS has also been behind numerous bombings of religious sites throughout the Islamic State, such as Christian churches and Shiite mosques.

Currently, France is leading the effort to grant asylum to those trying to escape the violence of ISIS, reports the Gospel Herald.

“This is genocide in every sense,” said Arabo.  “The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”

More US troops to be sent back to Iraq

After announcing last week the U.S. would send about 300 military advisers to the war-torn country of Iraq, the White House is now sending an additional 300 more troops to Iraq, bringing the total U.S. troop count in Iraq to approximately 750.

The additional troops are being sent to strengthen the security at U.S. specific places such as the embassy in Iraq and other areas where U.S. citizens are located or own property.  CBS News also reports part of the troops will be sent to reinforce the security details at the Baghdad International Airport.

These troops will not be involved with the other troops previously sent to Iraq as military advisers, reports The Journal.

Part of the additional military forces have already been deployed to Iraq, arriving as early as Sunday before the announcement was made late Monday night.

“This force will remain in Iraq,” President Obama wrote in a letter to Congress.  “This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat.”

Air support in the form of helicopters and drones will also be sent to the country to help raise “airfield and travel route security,” said John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, according to the Navy Times.

“The presence of these additional forces,” Kirby said according to USA Today, “will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”

ISIS Video Mocks “Obama, Did You Prepare Enough Diapers For Your Soldiers?”

The Islamic State (TIS), the new caliphate born from the ISIL controlled regions of Iraq and Syria, already faces the challenge of retaking the Iraqi city of Tikrit, while taunting the U.S. to interfere in their controlled areas.

Tikrit is a Sunni dominant city and fell to ISIL early in the group’s swift offensive through Iraq.  According to Al-Jazeera America, Iraqi military forces have been working to retake the city since Saturday when various assaults were launched.  ISIL has thrown back most of the attacks, but the Iraqi military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said Sunday, the Iraqi forces had control of the university in the city and he was confident in the military advances in Tikrit.

“The battle has several stages,” al-Moussawi told Al-Jazeera America.  “It is a matter of time before we declare the total clearing (of Tikrit).”

After TIS established itself, a video was released via the Gateway Pundit showing ISIL members raising their adopted flag over a former military base and exploring what remains in the area from the fighting.  Abu Saffiya, the narrator for the majority of the video makes various statements about the Iraqi military including, “they are nothing but cowards,” as he shows off abandoned Border Patrol vehicles and military patches seemingly left behind by Iraqi forces.

Near the end of the video, another ISIL soldier asks the camera, “Yo Obama, did you bring enough diapers for your soldiers,” as laughter is heard in the background and the speaker smiles on.

ISIL has already made plans to expand their reach after suicide bombers claimed by the group struck parts of Lebanon.  The bomber prematurely detonated himself in the hotel he was staying in after security forces stormed the hotel.  The bomber was the only casualty, but four members of the security force searching the building were injured.  Reports say the attack is the first f many on Lebanese soil to be carried out in the name of TIS.

A caliphate is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “political-religious state compromising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.”  Some say these lands though, historically, stretch from Spain over North Africa and through the Middle-East to the edge of historical Persia, now Iran.


Report: Military action in Iraq would hurt, not help

A new report from the Crisis Group on the ISIS crisis in Iraq claims any military intervention from outside of the country would not stop further actions, but runs the risk of “stoking the conflict.”

This report comes in the wake of President Obama vowing to send up to 300 military advisers to the country to help contain and end the conflict.  There has been no word yet as to whether or not the U.S. government will use airstrikes in Iraq as requested by the Iraqi government.

Iran has already sent about 500 Revolutionary Guards into Iraq to aid the local government according to CNN.

The report claims the attacks, and method ISIS has captured towns and strongholds, is not a military achievement or great military feat by any means, but rather the string of events has been likened to a person simply leaning on a “house of cards.”

The crisis has further polarized the divide between Sunni and Shiite denominations as well as ethnic Kurds across the country. ISIS is made of Sunni followers, according to Iraqi News, while the majority of government forces are made of Shiite forces.

These two groups have been divided across the globe for many years, and the discord can be traced back to the schism which occurred across Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

Military intervention within the country, according to the report, would only bolster further support for ISIS as the military forces would be seen as fighting for the current, Shiite dominant, Iraqi government.

The report from the Crisis Group claims in order to stop further bloodshed and prevent a civil war across the country, the Iraqi government needs to form a “genuine government of national unity,” where all three major political and ethnic forces within the country are included and given equal political sway.

The Crisis Group’s senior adviser on the Middle East and Africa, Peter Harling, said in relation to the crisis, “A U.S. military response alone will achieve very little… Counter-insurgency cannot be successful without an effective Iraqi army to ‘clear’, an accepted Iraqi police to ‘hold’, and a legitimate Iraqi political leadership to build.”

Largest Iraqi oil refinery under ISIS control

The largest oil refinery in Iraq, located in the city of Baiji, an estimated 155 miles north of Baghdad, is under “75% control” by ISIL fighters.

The Baiji refinery went under siege last night and the complex was hit by mortar fire which started a few fires.  The battle and subsequent siege lasted until early this morning when militants claimed most of the refinery.

An unnamed source told Reuters the militants had managed to break into the refinery and take control of over 75% of the complex including, “production units, administration building and four watchtowers.”

This refinery in particular is responsible for more than a quarter of Iraq’s oil production, nearly all of which goes towards foreign consumption and exportation.

TIME is reporting that since this refinery is responsible for so much of the country’s oil exports, there are risks of “long lines at gas pump and electricity shortages…”  This could also spell higher gas prices at pumps around the world.

The town of Baiji was taken last week by ISIS militants, and the oil refinery sent all foreign nationals working in the complex to their respective countries while local workers stayed behind.

This is the latest of many business operations to be captured by ISIS militants, who have been using oil businesses, namely in Syria, to boost the organization’s profits.

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.”

Iraqi Insurgents Storm Mosul, Reportedly Seizing US Weaponry

On Tuesday, insurgents representing a group which calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stormed and captured Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. The armed rebel group had recently been disavowed by Al-Qaeda leaders, who disagreed with the extreme brutality of ISIS’ tactics. The Washington Post is reporting that, as ISIS fighters charged into the city from the west, many US-trained soldiers and police officers representing the Iraqi government dropped their weapons, stripped off their uniforms, and fled their guard posts, allowing ISIS to seize the entire city and several bases full of weapons, most of which were likely provided by the United States.

According to International Business Times, up to 500,000 residents of Mosul fled in advance of the attack. The city’s population prior to these evacuations was estimated at around 1.5 million people, making this a significant victory for the Sunni insurgency. ISIS also captured Fallujah in January. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki requested that Parliament declare a state of emergency and called on Iraqis to take up arms and fight back against the insurgents, which may have signaled to ISIS that the government lacks the manpower and resources to defend itself against the group’s advances.

Amid reports that the US is sending F-16s to Iraq, ISIS fighters seized a massive stockpile of weapons and vehicles, which likely included munitions supplied by the United States. The infamous Chechen jihadi fighter Omar al-Shishani was depicted in a photograph on Twitter examining a US-provided Humvee which may have been seized during the attack. The loss of US-supplied weapons to insurgents raises questions as to whether or not the Iraqi government has the ability to keep advanced American weaponry from falling into the wrong hands.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, claims to be an independent state representing Iraq and Syria, but is unrecognized by international bodies and is considered a rebel group by the Iraqi government. ISIS now controls a significant portion of land in the region, encompassing sections of eastern Syria and western Iraq, and plans to capture the Levant region in the future. Prime Minister Maliki has announced that security forces will be mobilized to combat the invasion.

The sudden seizure of such a large city has shocked observers, causing experts to reassess the strength of ISIS’ fighters. Also, the fact that government forces fled in advance of the attack calls into question the loyalty of Maliki’s soldiers and police officers, some of whom might have had sympathies for the insurgents.