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War Breaking Out in Iraq/ Americans Being Evacuated

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Signs are emerging that a top fugitive and other military officers from ousted dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime are backing Al Qaeda-inspired militants in Iraq, who vowed Thursday to march against Baghdad after seizing two key northern cities.

Two senior intelligence officials told The Associated Press Thursday that an armed group led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — the late leader’s former deputy who escaped the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and eluded U.S. and Iraqi forces ever since – is fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit that was overrun by militants Wednesday, witnesses said fighters raised posters of Saddam and al-Douri. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

A spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — said in audio posted on militant websites commonly used by the group that the fighters have old scores to settle with Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

In Baghdad, hundreds of young men surrounded an army recruiting center after authorities issued calls for help in the fight against the ISIS, The Guardian reports. The warnings spread tensions in the capital as residents rushed to stores to buy up goods.

The ISIS – under its former name of Al Qaeda in Iraq — was classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2004.

Meanwhile, in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul – which the ISIS captured much of on Tuesday – militants paraded American Humvees seized from Iraqi forces who evacuated the area, according to Reuters.

The militants have gained entry to the Turkish Consulate in Mosul and are holding captive 48 people, including diplomats, police, consulate employees and three children, according to an official in the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish officials believe the hostages are safe, the source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to reporters on the sensitive issue.

The militants also seized 31 Turkish truck drivers in Mosul.

The Islamic State issued a triumphalist statement declaring that it would start implementing its strict version of Shariah law in Mosul and other regions it had overrun. It said women should stay in their homes for modesty reasons, warned it would cut off the hands of thieves and told residents to attend daily prayers. It told Sunnis in the military and police to abandon their posts and “repent” or else “face only death.”

“People, you have tried secular regimes … This is now the era of the Islamic State,” it proclaimed.

The militants took Tikrit after police and military forces melted away following relatively brief clashes, yielding ground once controlled by U.S. forces.

In the north, Kurdish security forces on Thursday took over an air base and other posts abandoned by the Iraqi military in ethnically mixed Kirkuk, a senior official with the Kurdish forces said. He denied they had taken over the oil-rich city.

The Washington Post reported that militants had reached the city of Samarra, approximately 80 miles north of the Iraqi capital, by nightfall Wednesday.

Skirmishes continued in several areas overnight and into Thursday. Two communities near Tikrit — the key oil refining center of Beiji and the city of Samarra, home to a prominent Shiite shrine — remained in government hands, according to Iraqi intelligence officials.

There were clashes and gunmen tried to take the Beiji but were repelled in a rare success for Iraqi government forces protecting an important facility, the officials said.

But they added that ISIS fighters managed to take control of two big weapons depots holding some 400,000 items, including AK-47 rifles, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, artillery shells and mortars. A quarter of the stockpiles were quickly sent to Syria in order to help the group’s comrades there, they said.

On Thursday, militants attacked an Iraqi security checkpoint in the town of Tarmiyah, 31 miles north of Baghdad, killing five troops and wounding nine, officials told the Associated Press.

The ISIS’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, threatened that Sunni ISIS fighters would capture the southern Iraqi Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, which hold two of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims.

Al-Adnani also said that one of his group’s top military commanders, Adnan Ismail Najm, better known as Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Bilawi al-Anbari, was killed in the recent battles in Iraq.

Al-Adnani said Najm worked closely with the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. troops in 2006. Najm was later detained and spent years in prison before he was set free two years ago and prepared and commanded the operations that led to the latest incursions by the group in northern and central Iraq.

After Mosul fell Tuesday, al-Maliki asked parliament to give him the “necessary powers” to run the country under a state of emergency — something legal experts said would include powers to impose curfews, restrict public movements and censor the media.

After parliament failed to reach a quorum, Hakim al-Zamili, a lawmaker affiliated with firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, played down the apparent lack of support for the vote, saying al-Maliki already has enough power to take the necessary action.

“The problem is that soldiers are not resisting the armed groups,” he said. “No soldier is ready to fire a shot against the gunmen.”

The Obama administration reportedly has rebuffed calls from the Iraqi government to carry out airstrikes against the Al Qaeda-aligned militants, despite apparent pleas by al-Maliki. The administration is weighing sending additional aid, but has not specified what that might be.

Officials say three planeloads of Americans are being evacuated from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad to escape potential threats from a fast-moving insurgency.

A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.

Twelve U.S. personnel who were stationed at Balad were the first to be evacuated. Several hundred American contractors are still waiting to leave.

They have been training Iraqi forces to use fighter jets and surveillance drones.

Other U.S. contractors at a tank training ground in the city of Taji is still ongoing for now.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they refused to be named in discussing the sensitive situation.

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  • In 1975, after Democrats withdrew all support for South Vietnam, Saigon was overrun. The final evacuation was called Operation Frequent Wind.
    In 2014, after Obama withdrew all support for a free Iraq, Baghdad will soon be overrun. Will this final evacuation be called Operation Breaking Wind?

  • Reelman1946

    Fool of the Week is Hii-liary Clinton who stated we had terrorists in GITMO because they were a danger to Pakistan and Afganistan. (not the USA)

  • Virgil Ferguson

    If there are three Muslims in one area, two are going to get together and destroy the other Leave the Iraqis alone. Our enemies are killing each other, for crying out loud . How much better can it get ?????????

    • astrojohn

      short-term solution, unfortunately. Can the next crusade be on the horizon?

      • Kent2012

        hope so and it should be the “final crusade”….

    • newhon63

      It can’t get better, only worse. They have said their intent is to establish a central caliphate with which to train and stage a Jihad against the West. They said this years ago and now it is coming to pass. Once they have control of all of Iraq, they will turn their attention to Syria. Afghaistan has Karsi, so that is in the bag already. Iran could come over and prevent them from taking control but only to take control themselves. All Obadama wanted to do was end the wars that Mean Ol’ Bush started before he left office but like everything else he touches, it ends up like a monkey handling a loaded gun. Someone else pays yhe price.

      Now I know if there are any Liberals here, they are going to say “RACIST” because I mentioned monkey and Obama in the same universe. You married the term to being racist to it here, not me. I use monkey in regards to the incompetency and inability to handle delicate situations on the international scale. Wonder who the scapegoat is going to be to take the heat for this stupidity? He has to be running out of diehard “Take one for His Majesty” by now.

  • Sagebrush6

    Fighting is all they know how to do. They know no other way of life.

  • Chris Fostel

    Only one correction to the article. War is not breaking out in Iraq. War is about to end in Iraq. The Sunnis will soon have absolute control again.

    • newhon63

      No, the war is not over for us. Obama can say all he wants that Al-queda is on it’s back, he can pass memos around yomthat effect, he can hit the trailman tout his success in that regard.

      But Al-Queda or any of the other terrorist networks never got the memo. They will set up in Iraq but they will continue to launch attacks against Weastern forces and anyone they perceive as a threat….or non-Islamic. Convert, submit, or die. The only 3 acceptable terms for surrender. Pick one or one will be picked for you and they really like the last one alot. Unless you are a woman, then they REALLY LIKE the second one. They prefer the 6-11range but when it comes to slaves all ages have their uses for them.

  • newhon63

    This is what happens when the advise of a politician is taken from a politician instead of the generals that are there and tell you this will happen. Obama said he could not get a deal from the Iraqi leader to leave a residuel force to stay there to prevent this but he didn’t really try very hard. It was too much work and Obama is a lazy President. The lazy part was his own words that he said before about himself.

    The Iraqi forces we spent money to train and equip never even fired a shot, they dropped their weapons and fleed, leaving civilians unprotected. The invading forces are now in control of the Humvees and all the other weapons, equipment and technology we left for them. Score one for the Muslim terrorists.

    • Kent2012

      there are no good golf courses in Iraq, otherwise the african pretender might just have seen his way there…oh for a high level summit that is….

  • fideux

    Well thank God we have a president with such a strong and intelligent foreign policy/strategy! We should all sleep better tonight.

    • Kent2012

      unless you live in southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Californication..

  • DouglasDauntless

    Screw the Iraqis and all the War mongers in this Country who want us to go back to Iraq and our children die for the Bush oil Empire. We should never went to Iraq in the first place. They love Islam and killing each other go ahead. And guys like John McCain and his gang. send your children to die for nothing. We are running our of White young men and women to die for nothing. 1,300,000 soldiers have died in our 100 year wars. 90%were white. Look it up. No Country attacked us except two. Japan and Saudi Arabia in 9/11. These people don’t like freedom. They like it when some one has their foot on their neck and a sword in their hands to chop their heads off. Fight for your selves. All these Wars are no win UN wars.

    • newhon63

      The problem is that no matter what the world does in this matter. The ISIS troops and the rest of the terrorists organizations would do the same thing just in a different way. We stopped a dictator that oppressed millions of people in Saddam Hussein. No WMD were found but we could not take the chance as to whether there were any or not. Saddam used them before against the Kurds that costed countless lives. Be that as it may. What happened happened. So Obama gets his butt all puckered up to get our troops out of there even though Bush warned during the Obama transition that pulling out of Iraq too soon would bring about exactly what is happening now. But like everyone else, Obama ignored that. He did not even want to leave a force behind to finish training the Iraqi army. The generals advised leaving 28,000, Maliki would most likely had made the deal with troop immunity for our guys with respect to Iraqi laws for that amount. The Administration reduced it to 10,000, then wanted 3,000. Maliki would have to stick his neck out politically for 3,000 troops? It was not worth it and THAT is why he would not agree to troops staying behind.

      Did Bush screw up with the WMD reason. Yes. But the war there was done, the Taliban were reduced and Obama had clear sailing, but he did mot do his part to keep the region stable. He was politically motivated like he always is but does not look at the big picture. All he wants is political currency.

      • newhon63

        The terrorist groups will continue to plot to take the world over, they will not stop until the globe is under Islam and Sharia Law. Meanwhile our government and others around the world are playing political games. Islam is not playing politics. They are playing for keeps.

  • PATRIOT.WW48

    turn every sq. in. of rag-head sand into glass

  • Kent2012

    yes and those Iraqis will show the al queerda rag heads where all the weapons are that were hidden many years ago when Powell convinced GWB to hold off moving into Iraq and searching out saddam….