Iraq Occupation Focus

Newsletter No. 288

November 2nd, 2015

Pentagon Vows More Iraq Raids, Insists They Don’t Count as Combat reports (October 23rd): After launching the ISIS war in Iraq last year, President Obama promised it would be an air war only, with no boots on the ground. After deploying a number of troops, that was revised to being a “non-combat” mission, where the troops were only there to “advise and assist.”

Yesterday, US Special Forces got in a direct gun battle with ISIS, and one soldier was slain, during a joint US-Kurdish raid. That seemingly put an end to the claims of no combat, despite Pentagon claims to the contrary. As officials try to clarify, it only gets more confusing.

Iraq authorizes Russian airstrikes against Daesh

Anadolu Agency reports (October 23rd): The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh (ISIS) convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

As Extremists Withdraw in Salahaddin, Iraq's Tribes Demand Justice

Niqash reports (October 22nd): As the extremist group known as the Islamic State was pushed out of the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, some of the Iraqi tribal networks in the area emerged as heroes. And others were classified as villains.

Power failure in Iraq as militias outgun state

Reuters report (October 21st): Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi came to office a year ago promising to rebuild his country. But the Iraqi state has grown weaker as power has leaked to Shi’ite militia leaders.

U.S. to Iraq: If Russia helps you fight ISIS, we can't

CBS reports (October 21st): The U.S. has told Iraq's leaders they must choose between ongoing American support in the battle against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asking the Russians to intervene instead.

Iraq says forces recapture refinery town from IS militants

AP report (October 20th): Teamed up with paramilitary forces, Iraqi government troops drove Islamic State militants out of a key oil refinery town north of Baghdad, a government spokesman said.

Iraqi Forces and Shiite Militias Retake Oil Refinery From ISIS

NY Times reports (October 16th): Iraqi forces and the Shiite militias fighting alongside them announced that they had retaken the oil refinery at Baiji from Islamic State militants, in some of the first significant progress against the extremist group after months of stalled efforts.

Civilian casualties in Anbar

Xinhua reports (October 12th): In Iraq's western province of Anbar, five IS militants were killed and seven others wounded in an air strike by an Iraqi warplane on a house used by IS militants in Juffa area east of Ramadi, the source added.

Meanwhile, the security forces and allied paramilitary groups, known as Hashd Shaabi, continued their advance toward the edges of Ramadi, while the army artillery and aircraft intensified their bombardment on IS positions inside the city, the source said. Some attacks hit houses in districts of Theilah and Jam'iyah east of the city, killing four people and wounding 25 others.

Mother of Iraq soldier killed by friendly fire loses legal aid backing

The Guardian reports (October 24th): An unemployed mother who is bringing a landmark legal action against the Ministry of Defence over the death of her son, a soldier killed in Iraq in a friendly-fire incident, has said she is “devastated” after losing her legal aid when she took a low-paid job to comply with welfare regulations.

No More Red Lines For Protestors in Iraq

Niqash reports (October 15th): In ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Dhi Qar, protestors' use of satire is attracting attention. Jokes are crossing political, religious and cultural red lines.

Number of Displaced Iraqis Hits 3.2 Million, Says United Nations

NDTV reports (October 17th): The number of people who have been displaced by conflict in Iraq since the start of 2014 has reached 3.2 million, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Mosul pilgrims stuck in Kirkuk; Daesh out to seize their homes

Arab News reports (October 18th): Like hundreds of elderly men and women from the Iraqi city of Mosul, Haji Ahmed left in August to perform Haj.

Leaving the militant-held city comes at a high price. Many residents are now forced to give up the deed to their homes as collateral to ensure they return — a tactic the militant group uses to keep civilians from fleeing the city.

Survival on Sinjar mountain

IRIN reports (October 22nd): Bapir Hassan Saed owned 100 sheep before the so-called Islamic State took control of his village in north-western Iraq in August last year, killing one of his sons and forcing him to take flight.

More than a year since he and 50,000 other Yazidis scaled Mount Sinjar with IS militants on their heels, Saed is among 8,750 of the Kurdish religious minority left on the arid mountain range. He has just four sheep now, which provide his large family with milk, yoghurt and wool.

The Iraqi Journalist Who Hid From Extremists in Mosul for a Year

Niqash reports (October 22nd): Shaima Jamal is a mother of two and journalist from Mosul. She was in the city when the Islamic State group took control last year. She hid for a year, then left for Turkey. She tells NIQASH her escape story.

Iraq cholera cases grow, spread to Kurdish region

AFP report (October 20th): The number of cholera cases in Iraq has risen to more than 1,800 as the epidemic spread to the northern autonomous Kurdish region, health officials said.

Canada to end airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, new prime minister Trudeau says The Guardian reports (October 21st): Canadian Liberal prime minister designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Canada will withdraw its fighter jets from the US-led mission against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.