Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, December 2016
Sunni Muslim Arabs in Northern Iraq Under Continuous Attacks, Fleeing Out of Cities, Besieged in Mosul without Electricity or Food Supplies
December 6, 2016
The US-led coalition which fights the Islamic State in northern Iraq consists of US-led NATO forces, Iraqi Shi'i government forces, Iranian-backed Shi'i militias, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The coalition's continuous attacks have resulted in the killing of thousands of Iraqi Sunni Muslim Arabs and the eviction of thousands as a result of the destruction of their cities and villages.
Millions of Iraqi Sunni Muslim Arabs are expected to leave their cities and villages as the fighting intensifies towards an all-attack by the US-led coalition on Mosul. The end outcome is evicting (ethnic cleansing of) Sunni Muslim Arabs from the upper Euphrates region of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria.
The following news stories from the official US and Iraqi websites do not mention any civilian casualties, as all reported deaths are claimed to be for ISIS members, who were killed in air strikes and bombardment on cities! Needless to say that independent sources are hard to find or report from. Thus, the following is a documentation of the death and destruction, as reported basically in such official website. Other independent reporting will be presented whenever available.
The larger context for understanding the Iraq war (and other wars in the Middle East) is the Zionist-Israeli plan of destroying the Arab Middle Eastern states in preparation for the establishment of the greater Israeli empire, from the Nile of Egypt to the Euphrates of Iraq.
For a background, read:
Thousands of Iraqis flee Tala'afar to Syrian city of Izaz, to escape the crimes of the Shi'i government militiamen
Yaqein, November 30, 2016
The following are news stories from a pro-Iraqi government website (http://www.iraqinews.com/) :
Iraqi army engages in ferocious fights with ISIS east of Mosul
December 6, 2016
Iraqi army forces are engaging in ferocious battles with Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Mosul since early Tuesday as operations continue to clear the eastern section of the city.
UK-based The New Arab website quoted military sources as saying that the forces are backed by US artillery forces and Apache helicopters which bombed areas inside the city. ISIS militants are, meanwhile, carrying out a series of suicide bombings in several areas east of Mosul to impede the advancing troops, according to the website.
Intense battles are ongoing at the districts of al-Shaimaa, al-Salam, Doumiz, Qadisiya and al-Barid, according to the army sources.
“For hours, we have been in violent battles, backed by an air and artillery cover from the international and US forces. US Apaches have intervened shortly before to handle some difficult targets,” an army officer told the website, pointing to what he described as “ a significant progress” achieved by the forces.
Also on Tuesday, the army’s Counter Terrorism Service invaded al-Aalam district in eastern Mosul.
Iraqi government forces, backed by popular militias and a US-led air cover, have been liberating villages in Mosul on an almost daily basis as part of a major operation to free the city that launched in mid October.
Military and police commanders said recently that government forces became in control of nearly 50 percent of the eastern section of Mosul. ISIS remains in control of most of the western region adjacent to the group’s strongholds in Syria, but Iraqi security commanders and militia leaders reportedly managed to cut ISIS’s supply and escape routes to and from Syria.
On Monday, Iraqi forces bombarded regions on the western side, denoting the opening of a new battle front.
Airstrike kills, wounds 22 ISIS militants near Kirkuk
by Loaa Adel
December 5, 2016, 5:20 pm
Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) --
Iraqi media outlets reported on Monday, that an international coalition air strike either killed or wounded 22 members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS), southwest of Kirkuk.
Alsumaria News stated, “This morning, coalition aircraft conducted an air strike, targeting a gathering of the extremist group’s militants, in central Hawija district.”
“The airs strike resulted in the killing of eight ISIS members and wounding of 14 others,” the media outlet added.
“The air strike also destructed a building used by the group’s members for hiding,” Alsumaria explained.
Noteworthy, Islamic State group’s members imposed their control on the areas of Kirkuk province, including Hawija district, al-Riyad, Abbasi, Zab, as well as Basheer village, after capturing the city of Mosul in 10 June 2014.
Minister: refugees from Nineveh, Hawija up to 90,000
December 5, 2016, 3:59 pm
The number of refugees from Nineveh and Kirkuk’s town of Hawija has reached 90.000, said Iraq’ s Migration and Displacement Minister, Jassem al-Jaff.
The number is a surge from last week’s announced total of 80.000 people who had left their hometowns escaping Islamic State militants.
In the meantime, 1.5 million people have returned to their liberated areas, al-Jaff said during a ministry meeting on refugees on Monday.
The ministry’s refugee relief commission had allocated 1.5 billion Iraqi dinars for the health ministry for the treatment of wounded refugees and security personnel.
United Nations estimates put the number of internally-displaced Iraqis at above 3 million since January 2014. Other Iraqis are still stranded inside regions held by the Islamic State, and have recently been reported to suffer stinging shortages of daily livelihood under the extremist group’s rule.
Mosul’s makeshift hospital unable to admit more civilians
December 4, 2016, 9:35 am
Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) --
The only field hospital erected by Iraqi government troops in Mosul has become unable to admit more injured civilians as Islamic State militants continue to shell areas they have lost to the advancing troops, Anadolu Agency reported.
According to doctors, the hurdle coincides with inability by Iraqi forces to storm several districts of Mosul as militants rely on booby-traps, snipers to heold off the troops, and a network of underground tunnels to facilitate their movement.
Mohamed al-Sawwas, a doctor at the makeshift facility in the town of Kokajli, was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying that ISIS has been “relentlessly” bombarding densely-populated recaptured areas with mortar and artillery missiles.
He revealed that the hospital has become “unable to admit more injured persons after they reached 80 cases in a few hours late Saturday,” noting that many of those are suffering “very serious” wounds.
According to Sawas, “The hospital has run out of medical appliances, such as sterilizers and first-aid medicine,” which made medical workers helpless with cases that require medium or high-risk surgeries.
The United Nations and other refugee assistance bodies have recently warned that refugees from Mosul continue to suffer difficult living conditions that exacerbated with rainfalls at al-Khazir and Hassan Sham camps near Mosul. Food and water shortages are also biting people who remain in the city, with the main water pipe feeding the city damaged in battles, coupled with electricity cuts.
Iyad Rafed, a member of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, was quoted on Saturday as saying that refugees started to set up sand barriers to prevent water from seeping into their tents.
395 displaced families return to their areas near Mukdadiyah
by Loaa Adel
November 30, 2016, 6:26 pm
Diyala (IraqiNews.com) --
Diyala Police Command announced on Wednesday, that 395 displaced families returned to their liberated areas in Mansouriyah area, in northern Mukdadiyah district, northeast of Baqubah, while pointed out that the last batch of displaced families will return to their areas in the few coming days.
Diyala Police Chief, Major General Jassim al-Saadi, said, “Diyala Police Command, in cooperation with Tigris Operations Command and al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces managed to secure the return of a new batch of displaced people including 395 families to the villages of Mansouriyah al-Jabal area, in Mukdadiyah district, northeast of Baqubah, after completing their security procedures.”
“The last batch of displaced families will return to their areas in the coming few days,” Saadi added.
Mosul residents fear cold and hunger of winter siege
by Loaa Adel Dec 4, 2016, 6:48 pm
(Reuters), Iraqi News --
No food or fuel has reached Mosul in nearly a week and the onset of rain and cold weather threatens a tough winter for more than a million people still in Islamic State-held areas of the city, residents said on Saturday.
Iraqi troops waging a six-week-old offensive against the militants controlling Mosul have advanced into eastern city districts, while other forces have sealed Mosul’s southern and northern approaches and 10 days ago blocked the road west.
But their advance has been hampered by waves of counter-attacks from the ultra-hardline Islamists who have controlled the city since mid-2014 and built a network of tunnels in preparation for their defense of north Iraq’s largest city.
The slow progress means the campaign is likely to drag on throughout the winter, and has prompted warnings from aid groups that civilians face a near complete siege in the coming months.
A trader in Mosul, speaking by telephone, said no new food or fuel supplies had reached the city since Sunday.
Despite attempts by the militants to keep prices stable, and the arrest last week of dozens of shopkeepers accused of hiking prices, the trader said food had become more expensive and fuel prices had tripled.
“We’ve been living under a real state of siege for a week,” said one resident of west Mosul, several miles (km) from the frontline neighborhoods on the east bank of the Tigris river.
“Two days ago the electricity generator supplying the neighborhood stopped working because of lack of fuel. Water is cut and food prices have risen and it’s terribly cold. We fear the days ahead will be much worse”.
A pipeline supplying water to around 650,000 people in Mosul was hit during fighting this week between the army and Islamic State. A local official said it could not be fixed because the damage was in an area still being fought over.
Winter conditions will also hit the nearly 80,000 people registered by the United Nations as displaced since the start of the Mosul campaign. That number excludes many thousands more who were forcibly moved by Islamic State, or fled from the fighting deeper into territory under its control.
MILITANTS COUNTER ATTACK
Islamic State authorities, trying to portray a sense of normality, released pictures which they said showed a Mosul market on Friday. It showed a crowd of people and a stall selling vegetable oil and canned food but no fresh produce.
They also said they carried out several counter attacks in the last 24 hours against Iraqi troops in eastern Mosul and the mainly Shi’ite Popular Mobilisation forces who have taken territory to the west of the city.
Amaq news agency, which is close to Islamic State, said they retook half of the Shaimaa district in southeast of the city on Friday, destroyed four army bases in the eastern al-Qadisiya al-Thaniya neighborhood and seized ammunition from fleeing soldiers in al-Bakr district, also in the east.
A source in the Counter Terrorism Services, which are spearheading the army offensive, said Islamic State exploited the bad weather and cloud cover, which prevented air support from a U.S.-led international coalition.
He said the militants had taken back some ground, but predicted their gains would be short-lived.
“This is not the first time it happens. We withdraw to avoid civilian losses and then regain control. They can’t hold territory for long,” the source said.
Amaq also said Islamic State fighters waged attacks on Saturday against the Popular Mobilisation paramilitary units near the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, showing footage of two damaged vehicles, one with interior ministry markings on it.
A spokesman for the militias said those attacks had been repelled. “Daesh attacked at dawn to try to control the village Tal Zalat,” said Karim Nouri. “Clashes continued for two hours, until Daesh withdrew, leaving bodies (of dead fighters) behind.”
In Baghdad, a car bomb blew up in a crowded market in the center of the city on Saturday, killing seven people and wounding 15, police and medical sources said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamic State fighters have stepped up attacks in the Iraqi capital and other cities since the start of the Mosul operations.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi launched the Mosul offensive on Oct. 17, aiming to crush Islamic State in the largest city it controls in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
The campaign pits a 100,000-strong U.S.-backed coalition of army troops, special forces, federal police, Kurdish fighters and the Popular Mobilisation forces against a few thousand militants in the city.
Defeat would deal a heavy blow to Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, announced by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from a Mosul mosque two years ago.
Fleeing Aleppo fighting, Syrians describe terrifying choices
by Loaa Adel Dec 4, 2016, 4:48 pm
(Reuters), Iraqi News --
As Syrian government forces advanced into Aleppo’s rebel-held al-Sakhour district, Hasan al-Ali said he faced the choice of staying put and being caught by the army, or fleeing into a shrinking rebel enclave under relentless bombardment.
A father of three children, he opted for the latter, though food, fuel, water and medicine are running critically low in rebel-held areas, such is his fear of the Syrian government that insurgents have been trying to unseat for more than five years.
“I didn’t take anything with me. I took the kids, ran to my car, and left… We took the decision at the final hour, because the army could have swooped in at any moment,” the 33-year-old said, speaking in eastern Aleppo.
For Ali and thousands of others in the areas that fell to the army in recent days, the danger and deprivation of east Aleppo seem a safer bet than the imprisonment or enlistment into the military that they fear if they moved to government areas.
But as some fled deeper into Aleppo’s remaining rebel districts, others decided instead to risk a perilous crossing of the front lines into government-held parts of the city, seeing it as a safer option than staying with the outgunned rebels.
“I hope Syria will return to the way it was, and people get back security and peace like before,” said Abed al-Salam Ahmad, who crossed to the government sector with his wife and six daughters after their house was hit by a shell.
The former construction worker said conditions were so bad that even animals would not endure them, and that inhabitants were badly treated by east Aleppo’s rebels – something the rebels deny. His family fled at dawn, braving gunfire as they crossed the front line.
He spoke to Reuters TV at a disused cotton factory in Aleppo’s Jibreen area, one of two former industrial facilities opened by the government to receive the displaced.
The divergent paths chosen by Ali and Ahmad illustrate the terrifying choices that have faced civilians fleeing one of the most ferocious battles of the Syrian war, with President Bashar al-Assad poised for his biggest triumph of the conflict so far.
Both the rebels and the government have accused each other of manipulating Aleppo residents’ fears to their own advantage.
The military say rebels spread false reports of government abuses to deter people from leaving rebel areas. Rebels in turn say that people who speak of mistreatment by insurgents after fleeing their territory are acting out of fear of authorities.
Since the army swept through the northern part of the rebel enclave a week ago, capturing several large, populous districts, at least 30,000 people have fled across the front lines from the rebel areas, the U.N.’s relief coordinator OCHA said.
Thousands of others – the numbers are more difficult to calculate because international bodies are not present in rebel-held east Aleppo – retreated further into the insurgents’ sector, including to the dense quarters of the Old City. OCHA estimates 5,000 had been displaced within eastern Aleppo.
The U.N. envoy for Syria said on Saturday there may still be more than 100,000 people in rebel-held areas. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it could be as many as 200,000.
For those remaining in districts held by rebels, conditions are worsening, aggravated by the shortage of basic goods and the constant danger of bombardment in civilian areas and fighting near the quickly shifting front lines.
“We had a lot of starvation. They were giving us every day or two days a bag of bread, so five loaves of pitta bread,” said a woman who gave the name of Um Ali, or ‘Ali’s mother’, who had fled to the government sector from her home in Jeb al-Qubba district.
After the army has finished checking the identity papers of her and her family, she hopes they can move in with her brother in a western district of Aleppo that is in government hands.
Many of those who chose to remain in rebel areas believe that checks of identity papers are a prelude to mass arrests, torture and extrajudicial killing, citing previous media reports of such action – all dismissed by Damascus as fabricated.
The Observatory said on Wednesday the government had detained hundreds of people. A Syrian military source denied that, and said that while identities were being checked, nobody was being arrested.
Khalil Halabi, 35, a pharmacist from al-Shaar district near the new front line, moved with his wife and children to the rebel-held Old City after what he described as 11 days of escalating bombardment.
“The destruction is indescribable – the limbs, burnt limbs. Buildings collapsed and were burned down, mosques were destroyed completely,” he said.
“We lost a lot of people… through barrel bombs and rockets. Some of them died and some of them were permanently injured,” he said. Others from his district fled in the other direction, seeking shelter in government areas.
For the people Reuters spoke to in Aleppo, the decision to leave home, even in the face of such deprivation and after a war that began in Syria in 2011 and arrived in their city in 2012, came as a wrench.
Mahmoud Zakaria Rannan, a tailor from the city’s Sheikh Najjar neighborhood who has six children and owned a small shop, said his family finally decided to leave after he was wounded when their house was shelled.
“I had been in my home for 40 years, was I going to leave it in one day?” he said. The family went to the Sheikh Khudr district and then to the Old City. But as clashes continued, they decided to join his brother in government-held Adamiya.
“We have kids, and I’m injured… so we had to walk very slowly,” he said. His journey included a two-hour trek through the city starting at 4 am. “There was a big group with us. They even fired on us at the airport highway.”
Some of those trapped inside the rebel sector may still be hoping to escape through a deal between rebels and the government, such as those that allowed thousands to leave Daraya near Damascus for insurgent-held Idlib after years of siege.
“I will go to another area, I’ll take my family and seek refuge in another area, a liberated area that doesn’t have the regime. I have no trust at all in the regime to stay in its areas,” said Ali.
Russian and Syrian Regime Air Strikes Kill 73 in Rebel-held Idlib Province: War Monitor
December 5, 2016, 11:51 am
(Reuters) Iraqi News --
Air strikes killed at least 73 people in rebel-held Idlib province, including 38 in the city of Maarat al-Numan, on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group monitoring the war, reported.
Russian war planes and Syrian military jets and helicopters have been conducting heavy strikes for months against rebels in Idlib, southwest of Aleppo. Insurgents had previously tried to get help and supplies to fellow rebels in the city from Idlib.
The Observatory said the death toll in Maarat al-Numan included five children and six members of a single family.
The bombardment included barrel bombs, improvised ordnance made from oil drums filled with explosives and dropped from helicopters, the monitor said. The Syrian military and Russia both deny using barrel bombs, whose use has been criticized by the United Nations.
Syria’s civil war, which began in 2011, pits President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Shi’ite Muslim militias against mostly Sunni rebels including groups supported by the United States, Turkey and Gulf kingdoms.
Jihadist militants are also fighting alongside the insurgents, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which has a large presence in Idlib province and was known as the Nusra Front until July when it broke its formal allegiance to al Qaeda.
Russia says its air campaign, which began in September 2015, is aimed at preventing jihadists, including both Fateh al-Sham and the Islamic State group, from gaining more territory in Syria that could be used to mount attacks overseas.
The following are news stories from the US Department of Defense website (http://www.defense.gov/News) :
Military Strikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 5, 2016 —
Strikes in Syria
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Syria:
-- Near Abu Kamal, two strikes destroyed two oil manifold valves.
-- Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node.
-- Near Raqqa, three strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a weapons production facility, a vehicle and a bulldozer.
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two fighting positions, a vehicle and an oil wellhead.
-- Near Manbij, two strikes destroyed an ISIL bulldozer and a vehicle bomb.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Asad, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.
-- Near Bashir, a strike destroyed an ISIL-held building and an anti-air artillery system.
-- Near Beiji, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a bunker.
-- Near Mosul, five strikes engaged four ISIL tactical units, destroying seven mortar systems, four ISIL-held buildings, two vehicles, a vehicle bomb factory and a front-end loader. Thirty-one supply routes were damaged.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle and a weapons system.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a building.
Military Strikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 4, 2016 —
Strikes in Syria
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted nine strikes in Syria:
-- Near Abu Kamal, three strikes destroyed three oil wellheads.
-- Near Raqqa, a strike destroyed an ISIL command and control node.
-- Near Ayn Isa, two strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL-held building and an ISIL command and control node.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes destroyed an oil tanker truck, an oil wellhead, and an oil rig.
-- Near Manbij, a strike destroyed an ISIL artillery piece.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, rotary and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted seven strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Huwayjah, three strikes disabled a bridge and destroyed five ISIL-held buildings.
-- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units; suppressed an ISIL tactical unit; damaged a land bridge, an ISIL-held building, and 16 supply routes; and destroyed a mortar, a weapons cache, four ISIL-held buildings, a command and control node, an explosives factory, and a heavy machine gun.
-- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.
Inherent Resolve Strikes Target ISIL in Syria, Iraq
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 3, 2016 —
Strikes in Syria
Attack and fighter aircraft conducted two strikes in Syria:
-- Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed a communications tower.
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike destroyed an artillery system.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack and fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted two strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL-held building, damaged eight supply routes, and suppressed a tactical unit.
-- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed a vehicle bomb factory.
Inherent Resolve Strikes Target ISILin Syria, Iraq
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 2, 2016 —
Strikes in Syria
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted four strikes in Syria:
-- Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Raqqah, a strike engaged an ISIL chemical weapon and ammunition storage facility.
-- Near Day az Zawr, two strikes destroyed four oil wellheads, two oil tanker trucks, an oil tanker-trailer and an oil work-over rig.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft, and rocket artillery conducted four strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Haditha, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL-held building.
-- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units and a weapons cache, destroying four heavy machine guns, four fighting positions, two vehicle bombs and a rocket-propelled grenade. A tactical unit was suppressed and eight supply routes were damaged.
Military Strikes Target ISIL in Syria, Iraq
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 1, 2016 —
Strikes in Syria
Attack aircraft and rocket artillery conducted two strikes in Syria:
-- Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed two oil pumpjacks.
-- Near Raqqah, a strike engaged an ISIL headquarters building.
Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber aircraft and rocket artillery conducted three strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroying four ISIL-held buildings, two vehicles, a vehicle bomb, a mortar system, and a rocket-propelled grenade. A bridge was disabled, and an ISIL tactical unit, a mortar system and a heavy machine gun were suppressed.
-- Near Rawah, two strikes engaged an ISIL vehicle bomb staging area and destroyed a bunker.
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