Iraq-ISIS Conflict of 2014

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Situation in Iraq

This is a page for whatever ACLOS eventually covers regarding the Iraq-ISIS conflict of 2014.

See also: Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS liberates Mosul‎

Iraqi Air Force

- Lockheed Martin Corp this week will deliver the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Iraq, marking what Baghdad's envoy to the United States called a "new chapter" in his country's ability to defend its vast borders with Iran and other neighbors.
Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily will travel to Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas, plant on Thursday for a ceremony at which Lockheed and the U.S. government will formally deliver the first F-16 to Iraq.... "Iraq is a large country with over 3,600 km of borders, and we need to protect them," Faily told Reuters in a telephone interview. "We as a country didn't have that capability before."
A group of three or four new jets will be ferried to Iraq before the end of the year.
Iraq, which the U.S. invaded and where its military spent years fighting insurgents over the past decade, took delivery of the first of 36 F-16 fighter jets being built in west Fort Worth.
Lukman Faily, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, said the F-16s will allow the rebuilding Iraqi air force to protect its own borders. Taking delivery of the first fighter sends “a clear sign to the world and the region that a stable and strong Iraq in a partnership of choice with the United States is what we are after.”
Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih Al-Fayyadh, said the F-16 will be “a weapon in the hands of all the people” to defend the new republic and its constitution. “To have the Iraqi people and the U.S stand side by side to fight this terrorism, there are no words to describe it,” he said.
Iraq first announced its intent to purchase 18 F-16s in 2011, and followed with a second order for 18 more last year.... Lockheed will continue building the planes for Iraq at a rate of about one a month in Fort Worth, ... The first two F-16s are expected to be flown to Iraq sometime later this year.
The Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad enjoys friendly relations with Iran and is widely regarded as a strategic ally.
  • June 10: Sunni extremist group ISIS captures Mosul‎. United States refuses immediate air assistance, debating conditions to impose on the Iraqi government first. Iran offers its Air Force assistance without precondition. Syria's Air Force attacks ISIS at the border (which side is disputed). The US warns both not to interfere with the delicate process underway.
"God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he said.
He said that the process of buying US jets had been "long-winded" and that the militants' advance could have been avoided if air cover had been in place. Isis (sic) and its Sunni Muslim allies seized large parts of Iraq this month.
Mr Maliki was speaking to the BBC's Arabic service in his first interview for an international broadcaster since Isis - the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - began its major offensive.
"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," Mr Maliki said.
"We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he went on.
He said Iraq was acquiring second-hand jet fighters from Russia and Belarus "that should arrive in Iraq in two or three days".
... The US, which backs the Iraqi government, has stressed that the militants can only be defeated by Iraq's own forces.
The Pentagon pushed back Friday on comments made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki that the US is slow-rolling a sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to Baghdad.
“There’s been no slow-rolling,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing on Friday. ... Kirby said the first two F-16s are scheduled for delivery in the fall as has been planned for months. “I don’t know how one can make the case that we’re slow-rolling it when they weren’t even supposed to be delivered for another few months,” Kirby said. “We’re still committed to the program. We’re still committed to the sale. And the process continues to churn, even given the unrest in Iraq.

(suggested in the last is that the ISIS invasion should perhaps slow or stop the process.)

Alleged Aerial Atrocities

Deadly explosions seem to be happening in ISIS-held areas and local (ISIS-welcoming?) offcials claim it was air strikes by Iraq and its allies against innocent Iraqis , with verbal supports bu no visual ones - the blamed secular governments deny the charges, but Western media and presumably leaders side with the blaming (ISIS supporting?) parties.

June 24

At least 57 Iraqi civilians were killed and more than 120 others were wounded by what local officials say were Syrian warplanes that struck several border areas of Anbar province Tuesday (the 24th).
Sabah Karkhout, head of Iraq's Anbar provincial council, told CNN that Tuesday's air attacks struck markets and fuel stations in areas such as Rutba, al-Walid and Al-Qaim. Unfortunately, (the) Syrian regime carried out barbarian attacks against civilians in Anbar province," he said Wednesday.
Karkhout said he was certain the warplanes were Syrian because they bore the image of the Syrian flag. "Also, the planes flew directly from Syrian airspace and went back to Syria," he said.Local officials said residents used scopes and other equipment to see details on the warplanes.
Iraq's military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, denied reports that Syrian warplanes struck inside Iraq's border towns. "We know our airspace. We have not recorded or registered infiltration of our air space from foreign jets, and all the warplanes and helicopters flying over Iraq airspace are Iraqis," he told CNN.
Syrian state media called the reports of a cross-border incursion "completely baseless" allegations made by "malicious media outlets," citing a "Syrian media source." CNN is seeking a response from the Syrian government in Damascus.

Added there is is a side-article Why would Syria bomb inside Iraq? This explains why it's likely despite the denials. And further they note "Iraq's border region has been targeted by Syria in the past -- as the Syrian conflict escalated in 2012, there was at least one instance where rockets fired from Syria landed in Al-Qaim." From Syria does not mean by Syria, meaning its government. That incident was mentioned as preceding another incident they don't mention there but that we covered here - it happened right after the first joint Iraqi-Syrian military operations - likely a terrorist-operated Scud to punish Iraq and try to wedge them and Syria apart. See Scud Missile Attacks in the Syrian Conflict and Reuters report Maybe that's not such a useful precedent?

July 9

A Sukhoi jet of the kind recently delivered by Moscow, and apparently Tehran, attacked a market Wednesday in the rebel-held city of Fallujah, which lies only 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of the capital.
According to doctor Ahmed Shami, eight people were killed and 35 wounded. He said five children were among another 12 wounded in further air strikes on Thursday.
Note: first jet deliveries was on June 30. Nine days to get these things flying is too quick for freshly-trained Iraqi pilots. Perhaps the allegation is that Russia sent pilots too and is now helping Iraq carry out its market massacres.
Note: at the linked article, there's a photo of firefighters putting out a blaze in a building allegedly hit in the air strike. From what can be seen, the house is undamaged and it looks like simple arson.

Other alleged Atrocities

Baghdad "Brothel" Massacre

Someone slaughtered 29 women in a Baghdad brothel last weekend. Officially, the investigation is ongoing but Jacob Siegel reports many Iraqis blame a Shia militia group known as the League of the Righteous. They mete out violent punishment to those guilty of moral transgressions. Worse, they're the good guys to Iraq's sectarian government.

It was an apartment building that was attacked, and it's only (some) locals and (some) police who say it was a brothel. It could be, or not. CNN reports a higher death toll of 34 - 28 women, 6 men and note:

Attackers left a message on a door: "This is the fate of any prostitution," an Agence France-Presse correspondent on the scene reported.
Residents told CNN the Shiite Asa'b Ahl al-Haq organization carried out the attack. But the organization told CNN it does not have forces inside the city.

One obvious question is the sect of the victims. Were these alleged Shia militant purifying their own community, or attacking Sunni immorality? That's not clear at the moment, but Channel 4 News reports the "suspected brothel" is "in Zayounah, a mixed Sunni-Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad" and added to the allegations "It is unclear which militant group carried out the attack." Even when/if that is established, it can't be a certain clue for anything, as long as reverse psychology and false flag incidents remain possible.

For example, consider that a lot of ISIS jihadists travelled a long way to get so close to Baghdad. It's not too hard to imagine a forward group with local contacts sneaking into town for some rape and relaxation in some Shia apartments there. And they could also kill some infidels when done, and loot the places and - by adding some theater and graffiti to it - they could at the same time get the infidels implicated for killing each other, and get the Shia-led government blamed for being friends with them. The real truth might be anywhere on the spectrum between this and the story "residents" are pushing.

ISIS WMD Scores in Iraq

(f/c)

Kurdistan

Some article, mainly at Rudaw:

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, has said in an interview that the U.S. and Turkey are unlikely to oppose the declaration of an independent Kurdish state.
Anticipating reaction from Washington and Ankara, Barzani told Germany’s Die Welt: “I do not expect active assistance or resistance.”
As president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Barzani last week called on the Kurdish Parliament in Erbil to work on fixing a date for a referendum on independence.
There have meanwhile been mixed signals from Turkey, the KRG’s closest regional partner ...
Kurdish Peshmerga forces moved into the Bai Hassan and Makhmur oilfields on Friday morning “to secure the oilfields after learning of orders by officials in the federal Ministry of Oil in Baghdad to sabotage the recent mutually-agreed pipeline infrastructure linking the Avana dome with the Khurmala field,” said Kurdistan’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

“The nearby Bai Hassan field and the other fields located in Makhmour district are now safely under KRG management. The KRG expects production at these fields to continue normally. Staff at the North Oil Company that previously operated these fields have been informed that from tomorrow they will be expected to cooperate with KRG management. Those who do not want to do so can leave,” said the MNR in a statement.
Maliki "has become hysterical and has lost his balance", a statement from the office of Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani said, reacting to accusations by the prime minister a day earlier that his administration was harbouring militants.
...
Maliki has accused Barzani of exploiting the chaos created by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group's military offensive, but the Kurdish president said the security collapse was of the premier's own making. :"You must apologise to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises," the statement said.
...
Kurdish troops moved into disputed areas vacated by federal forces that failed to stop a Sunni militant onslaught that began on June 9. The Kurds have since said those swathes of land were theirs to keep, and announced plans to hold a referendum on independence.
This report is dedicated to Serena Shim. Because both of us, had been covering an almost identical story. Because she is dead and I am still alive. Because she was brave. Because even as she was being threatened, and scared, she did not stop her dedicated quest for the truth, and as long as people like her live, work, struggle and die for our humanity, all is not lost, yet!
***
The weather is gloomy; it is drizzling and heavy fog is covering the entire countryside. After leaving Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, large and small military as well as police checkpoints appear; like ghosts, on both sides and in the middle of an old, dilapidated motorway, which was built during Saddam Hussein’s years. [...]
In a two-part series, Al-Akhbar English examines the mobilization and alliances, as well as challenges, emerging between various Kurdish factions as they confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The first part explored the prospect of establishing a united Kurdish army. The following is the second of the series, in which Al-Akhbar English interviews Havel Kani, a PKK field commander based at the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Saudi Arabia's "Great Wall"

The Saudis are building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” - a combined fence and ditch - to separates the country from Iraq to the north.
... The border zone now includes five layers of fencing with watch towers, night-vision cameras and radar cameras.
Riyadh also sent an extra 30,000 troops to the area.

In context, the philosophy seems to be send Daesh (ISIS) into Iraq-Syria, seal the ways back in. A Daesh attack on a post left four dead on each side, the report adds. Also, the kingdom "has also created a physical barrier along parts of the even longer, 1,000-mile border with Yemen to the south."