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Newsletter No. 289

November 16th, 2015

US spokesman in Iraq: 'Of course it’s combat'

Stars and Stripes reports (October 28th): U.S. troops in Iraq are in combat.

That’s what the Baghdad-based spokesman for the American-led, anti-Islamic State coalition told reporters.

Iraq: We Didn't Ask for U.S. Ground Operations

NBC reports (October 28th): The Iraqi government said Wednesday it didn't ask for — and doesn't need — the "direct action on the ground" promised by the Pentagon.

The revelation came a day after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the U.S. may carry out more unilateral ground raids — like last week's rescue operation to free hostages — in Iraq to target ISIS militants.

50 special forces troops to be dispatched in fight against Isis

The Independent reports (October 31st): The US is to station troops in Syria to assist in the fight against Isis for the first time, a reversal of President Barack Obama’s opposition to basing US forces in the country. Reports said troops will also be dispatched to Irbil in northern Iraq, and that Mr Obama has also authorised deploying A-10s and F-15 aircraft to the Incirlik air base in Turkey.

Canadian Airstrikes Linked To 2nd Allegation Of Civilian Casualties In Iraq, CBC Has Learned

CBC reports (October 28th): Canadian fighter planes have now been connected to a second airstrike in Iraq that has been reviewed by the Pentagon for possible civilian casualties, CBC's the fifth estate has learned.

Iraqi Shi'ite militia claims attack on exiled Iranian opposition camp

Reuters report (October 30th): A Shi'ite Muslim militia in Iraq claimed responsibility on Friday for a deadly rocket attack on an exiled Iranian opposition group housed near Baghdad, according to Iran's Fars news agency.

Corbyn calls for review of British role in Iraq airstrikes against Isis

The Guardian reports (November 3rd): Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that Britain should review its involvement in coalition airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, as the government confirmed it had no current plans to seek parliamentary approval for a widening of the bombing campaign to Syria.

The Labour leader said the airstrikes in Iraq should be looked at again because they had been unsuccessful in targeting Isis targets, which mainly operate across the border in Syria.

KDP official: ISIS executed 12 young men in Mosul

Rudaw reports (October 31st): The so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, in Mosul has reportedly executed a group of boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 16 trying to flee the extremist-held city, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official told Rudaw.

Islamic State targets journalists in Iraq's Mosul

BBC reports (October 28th): Islamic State militants have killed at least 13 journalists and other media workers in Mosul since seizing the Iraqi city in 2014, a watchdog says.

ISIS destroys Christian convent north of Mosul

Rudaw reports (November 6th): Fighters with the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, have blown up a Christian convent located 18km north of the occupied city of Mosul, the Mosul governor told Rudaw.

Tortured by Islamic State, rescued before execution: freed hostages recount ordeal

Reuters report (November 4th): The last thing that came to Saad Khalaf Ali's mind as his Islamic State interrogators smothered him with a plastic bag was his two wives and children. Then everything went dark.

He was jolted back to his senses by an electric current coursing through his body, and came round soaked in water and gasping for breath on the floor of a prison in northern Iraq.

The former policeman is one of many Iraqis to have suffered at the hands of Islamic State, which tortures, executes or beheads anyone deemed immoral or an opponent of its ideology and its goal of creating a caliphate across the Muslim world.

Iraq's parliament pushes back against PM over reforms

Al Jazeera reports (November 3rd): Iraq's parliament voted unanimously to bar the government from passing important reforms without its approval in an effort to curb the power of Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi amid discontent over his leadership style, politicians have said.

The cost of freedom from Islamic State

IRIN reports (October 29th): After living under the rule of the so-called Islamic State for more than a year, Khalil al-Abbassi knew he had to get out. But he was also well aware that leaving his home in Mosul in northern Iraq wouldn't be easy or cheap.

This August, 25-year-old Abbassi coughed up $1,000 in kickbacks and another $800 for a taxi to Baghdad, becoming one of the 3.2 million Iraqis displaced by the violence in their country, some of whom are paying extortionate sums of money just to leave home and escape IS occupation.

Extremists Release New School Textbooks, Curriculum in Mosul

Niqash reports (October 29th): Sports exercises done to the Islamic State mantra, maths books asking how many heroes the Islamic State has and cartoon children with guns - welcome to the new extremist education system in Mosul.

Cheap Imports Mean 'Made In Iraq' Is Disappearing

Niqash reports (October 29th): Almost half of Basra's smaller manufacturers have closed in the face of a market flooded with cheap imports. Yet due to the current financial crisis and sinking oil prices, they are more important than ever.

Iraq's Yazidi Women Defend Themselves, Change Culture One Girl at a Time

Niqash reports (October 29th): A special military unit of Yazidi women in northern Iraq is seen as praiseworthy. But what the female soldiers are learning there goes against much of what Yazidi society wants from its female members.

Scores killed in week of flash floods in Iraq

Al Jazeera reports (November 7th): At least 58 people have died in flash floods over the last week across Iraq, the country's health ministry has said.

UN launches campaign to tackle Iraq's cholera outbreak

Al Jazeera reports (November 7th): The United Nations has launched a major campaign to tackle a deadly cholera outbreak in Iraq, as infections reported in neighbouring Syria, Kuwait and Bahrain sparked fears that it could spiral into a regional epidemic, UNICEF's Iraq director, Peter Hawkins, told Al Jazeera.

Local Youths at Nasiriya Festival: 'Don't Leave Iraq to the Thieves And Murderers!'

Niqash reports (November 5th): A festival in Nasiriya sparks discussion about what young Iraqis really want. No sectarianism, no corruption and a better life, they say. And at least one would-be migrant changed his mind about leaving the country.

The U.S. Paid 86 Times More for a Gas Station Than Needed and Nobody Knows Why

Buzzfeed reports (November 2nd): A new report from the watchdog appointed to oversee the United States’ rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan says that a gas station constructed there managed to cost more than 80 times what it should have.

Comparable stations were constructed elsewhere for around $500,000, but the U.S. instead spent almost $43 million on the facility in northern Afghanistan.

Doctors Without Borders Staffers Were Shot While Fleeing Hospital Bombed By U.S.

Buzzfeed reports (November 5th): That revelation and more were in the Doctors Without Borders internal report on the Kunduz attack, released Thursday. More than 30 staff and patients were killed during the U.S. airstrikes.