TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) – From somewhere, a sniper opened fire on the seven battle-scarred Humvees of Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi’s convoy as they rode on a crater-pocked highway. The convoy’s gunners replied with volleys of fire. The drivers did not stop.
Obeidi was proving a point by making his first visit to Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, where a battle that broke a five month siege has been the main focus of the government’s U.S.-backed fightback against Islamic State.
BAGHDAD/BEIRUT (Reuters) – They have made enemies across the globe and endured three months of U.S.-led air strikes, but Islamic State fighters have surrendered little of their self-declared caliphate to the broad sweep of forces arrayed against them.
Across thousands of square miles in Syria and Iraq, the radical Islamists face an unlikely mix of Iraqi and Syrian soldiers, Shi’ite and Kurdish militias and rival Syrian Sunni Muslim rebels.
ARBIL/BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s government reached a formal agreement on Tuesday with Kurdish regional authorities to end a protracted dispute over oil exports and budget payments to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said the two sides had agreed to the export of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Kirkuk and 250,000 bpd from the northern Kurdish region through Turkey.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. air support and pledges of weapons and training for Iraq’s army have raised expectations of a counter-offensive soon against Islamic State, but sectarian rifts will hamper efforts to forge a military strategy and may delay a full-scale assault.
The Sunni Islamists stormed through northern Iraq in a 48-hour offensive in June, charging virtually unopposed toward the outskirts of Baghdad, humiliating a U.S.-trained Iraqi army which surrendered both land and weapons as it retreated.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters attacked a government complex in the heart of an Iraqi provincial capital on Friday, local officials said, in an apparently coordinated effort to seize full control of the city.
Gunmen fired from rooftops at buildings in Ramadi housing the Anbar governorate offices and police headquarters, while security forces and tribal fighters tried to prevent the militants from advancing.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Salman Khaled has already lived through Baghdad’s sectarian disintegration; with Iraq now splintering into Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish regions, he says this time the survival of the country is at stake.
“Things are really tense and it could get worse,” said the 23-year-old Sunni Muslim student. “If the politicians continue as they are doing now, we are on the path to separation.”
The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The United Nations accused Islamic State fighters in Iraq of executions, rape and forced recruitment of children during a campaign to seize much of northern Iraq, part of a conflict it said has killed almost 5,600 civilians this year.
In a report, the U.N. focused on a range of violations committed against civilians, particularly by the Islamic State, though it also said Iraqi forces and allied fighters had not taken precautions to protect civilians from violence.
Responding to an appeal from Shi’ite clerics, Salah al-Wa’ili signed up earlier this month with a militia near Baghdad fighting the Islamist insurgents who have swept through northern Iraq and threatened the capital.