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International silence emboldens Bahrain regime: Nabeel Rajab

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Press TV has conducted an interview with Nabeel Rajab, human rights activist from Manama, to discuss the issue of seventeen people being charged in Bahrain with forming a “terror cell”.

Rajab says unfortunately the Bahraini regime has dominated the judiciary and police system and it is using these powers as a tool to separate the nation. He also argues due to the silence of the international community, the Al Khalifa regime is continuing its oppression against the Bahraini people.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Revolution Bahrein

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Writing wrongs in East Jerusalem: A 16-year-old poet speaks out

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Mohammed al-Qurd, 16, has chosen poetry and writing as his way of peacefully resisting the Israeli occupation of his land and home

Six years ago, half of the al-Qurd family home was occupied by Israeli settlers who remain there to this day

SHEIKH JARRAH, Occupied East Jerusalem – 16-year-old Palestinian poet and aspiring writer Mohammed al-Qurd reads from his poem Jerusalem – the divine crime scene. Tall and slim with a depth and maturity beyond his years, Mohammed admits he is shy when meeting new people. Writing is his chosen mode of expression and his way of peacefully resisting the Israeli occupation of his land and home.

In 2009, a group of radical Israeli settlers stormed the al-Qurd family home, taking over half of the house. Mohammed’s grandmother Rifka was hospitalised following the incident and the family’s furniture was destroyed. Mohammed recalls the settlers sitting around a fire in the family’s front garden as they burned his younger sister’s bed. His father, Nabeel, tells Middle East Eye that the family have not set foot in that part of their house since.

Six years later, in what’s become one of the most breathtaking examples of Israel’s creeping settlement enterprise, the settlers live in the front of the home and the al-Qurds in the back. Sheikh Jarrah residents, like thousands of other Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, constantly live with insecurity, fear of eviction and harassment. While complex legal processes continue for families in the neighbourhood, Jews from all over the world are able to move to Israel and the occupied territories while Palestinians continue to be expelled from, or are unable to return to, the land of their birth.

‘’I would like to declare to every Zionist out there that the Promised Land is not in my back yard. Go and look somewhere else please.’’ Mohammed al-Qurd, age 16.

Mohammed has already penned his own book, Tomorrow is never coming. Chapters include titles such as “Walking towards yesterday”, “16 year old terrorist”, “The villain within us” and “The slaughter of destiny”. He describes the book as ‘’poetically distinguishing the problems that we have in Palestine and the world’’ through the criticism of blind faith, encouragement of women’s participation in the Palestinian struggle, the challenging of God as a real estate agent and questioning the stereotypes of a terrorist. He hopes it will be published one day.

Mohammed al-Qurd 

Mohammed says his poetry is not designed to comfort but to make people feel guilty. He hopes feelings of guilt provoke people to act. “When I recite a poem and somebody cries, I know I have succeeded – which happened with you.’’ Mohammed was very pleased I shed a tear as he read his poem “I”.

“I”

There is death
in the eye of a newborn
a fetus tragedy is re-singing
the same old floating catastrophe
and in ears there is storm
only raging for silence
what do you do
when your destiny is already
embroidered in the womb?

There is life
falsely promising of return
so I saved my innocence
for a long gone tomorrow
somehow the children
sing along
to the foolish hallows
of my song
and I wither
under the rain
that refuses to give
somehow I still drink
the tears of those who care

There is a face
written
but unread
with the ink of experience
I write the future
the heart of thunder
and the eye of lightening
only dance to the beat of
‘stop!’

Dare stop a lung
that only pleads
to be heard
breathing.

Born on the day of the catastrophe

Adamant that he “doesn’t believe in spiritual stuff”, Mohammed likes to think there’s a reason he was born on the anniversary of the Nakba. He says the black balloons Palestinians fly on Nakba day sum up how he feels. He doesn’t celebrate his birthday.

Unsurprisingly for someone who was forced out of half of his home using the justification of a Holy Book, he vehemently wrestles with religion. “Religion these days is just a cover for people to find excuses for their crimes,” he tells me.

Mohammed’s grandparents moved to Haifa after marrying. He says they were rich and had a cafe on the beach. ‘’It makes me cry because if they had stayed rich I would have an iPhone,’’ he says with a grin. The family lost everything after being forcibly evicted from their homes. In the early 1950s along with 27 other families chosen by UNRWA, they were moved to Sheikh Jarrah and, in return for giving up some of their rights as refugees, they were given new homes. When Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, Sheikh Jarrah was one of the areas targeted by the settlement movement. Settlers demanded that ownership of the lands the homes were built on be given to them and the residents evicted.

In the 2009 documentary My Neighbourhood which Mohammed narrated aged 12, Yonatan Yosef, spokesperson for the Sheikh Jarrah settler movement, said: ‘’We take house after house because we proved in the court that this area belongs to the Jews. Because of that, all this area we will make a Jewish neighbourhood. Our dream is that all of East Jerusalem will be like West Jerusalem, Jewish capital of Israel.”

When asked about rights to the land, Myron Joshua, an Israeli Jew living in a kibbutz in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, said, “It is not about Jewish rights to the land but about deep Jewish connection and the desire (and need) of the Jewish people for self-determination and fulfilling their collective lives in what is the cradle of their culture – and this through the accepted international political channels, such as the United Nations. Even if it meant being able to do so in only part of the historical homeland.’’

I questioned the “part of the historical homeland” bit as many settlers believe they can live where they wish and Myron replied that, in the past, the majority of Israelis accepted this, as well as 50 percent of religious Zionists, but that this has eroded over the decades.

The divine crime scene

Mohamed’s home is a depressing sight today. The front was gate ripped off by the settlers and torn Israeli flags blow in the wind. As the family expanded, Nabeel built an extension on the family home where six radical Israeli settlers and two dogs now live. They are part of a group that changes every few months. Messages of solidarity for the family painted on the walls in bright colours by international visitors have been covered with black paint. A dilapidated wooden structure daubed with a faded Star of David leans against the front of the house. According to Nabeel, it has been there for three years and is a Sukkot tent. During the festival of Sukkot, some Jews erect structures in their gardens to symbolise the fragile dwelling places the Jewish people lived in for years after being freed from slavery in Egypt. An irony not lost on many.

The family have had to hang blankets over the windows to separate the space and due to obscene gestures being made towards the women by the settlers from the windows. Over the years they’ve been spat on and sworn at. Mohammed thinks the settlers are paid to be there and says for some it is a career. “I mean, who wants to live in a neighbourhood full of Arabs? They can’t bear us right? We are terrorist people,” he says.

‘Our roofs leak, but we still have roofs’

Asked about violence in the neighbourhood, Mohammed says things were worse a few years ago. “But if you compare our situation to the problems they have in Bil’in or Bethlehem with settlers and military, we are lucky, or in Gaza, at least we have roofs over our heads. Our roofs leak but we still have roofs.”

At a young age Mohammed became aware of the difference in Israeli right and left politics. Hundreds pouring into Sheikh Jarrah to attend the weekly demonstration brought global attention to the situation and seeing Israelis supporting his struggle gave him hope. His thoughts on this now are less than hopeful. “I was a naive kid back then.” He he is not pointing fingers but believes the situation reflects hypocrisy and double standards and that some are only in solidarity with Palestinians if they “fit with their ideology and standards”. He gives the summer war on Gaza as an example: “Where was the solidarity then? If they are only supporting a surrendering people then they are supporting the wrong kind of people. It’s our right to resist. What would you do if your homeland was being devoured by evil? You would fight back and not choke.”

Israeli activist Ofer Neiman claims that part of the reason the Sheikh Jarrah demonstration has withered is due to internal divisions among activists. Bleakly, he said there’s a “growing collective wisdom as to the reality of not being able to change things from within Israel”. Some activists are taking a hiatus and reconsidering the required strategy, others are focusing on BDS.

To Mohammed, it doesn’t feel like the same demonstration anymore. He says that signs that previously said “Free Palestine” and “End the Occupation” now only relate to Israeli politics. “It’s been turned into a platform for stuff which doesn’t support our struggle,” he says.

When the terrorist is white…

In the documentary “My neighbourhood”, Mohammed proudly showed off his small library of books. Asked what he reads now, he says he has a big library. He shows me a photo of his library on his bedroom windowsill. He likes authors who write about the Palestinian struggle, ancient poets as well as books on human rights, freedom and religion. “I really love Voltaire.” He asks, “Have you read Candide?”

Mohammed has printed out a portrait of Frida Kahlo for his school art class. In a “show-and-tell” activity, he wants to discuss her with kids in his class. “I’m a 16-year-old boy and everyone at school wants to be the image society creates for them, but individuality and identity is a great thing. I want to focus on that.”

An influence in his teenage years was Lady Gaga’s album Born This Way. He describes feeling empowered by her lyrics about self-acceptance, courage and fighting for your beliefs. When she played Tel Aviv in 2014, he was devastated. He wrote her a letter. “I was like, seriously? I don’t think she understands much about the situation because the Zionist propaganda in the US is blinding and dishonest.”

Mohammed sings the words to Feeling Good by Nina Simone, I ask him if he has heard the song Baltimore. He hasn’t, so we play it and he immediately relates the struggle to Jerusalem. He downloads it immediately to listen to later; he doesn’t have wifi at home.

Mohammed thinks he can sometimes be a bit negative and see the cup as half empty, “But I only see it as half empty so I can fill it.” After the brutal murders of the three American Muslims in Chapel Hill, he wrote this poem:

When the Terrorist is White. A poem for Yousor, Deah and Razan

When the terrorist is white
there won’t be any billboards
undermining, corrupting, and tarnishing
the image of a whole nation
there wouldn’t be generalising
nor would be any criminalising
due to race; discriminate a population
there won’t be anyone talking down to
a sixteen year old, who has nothing to do
with chaos

When the criminal is white
it will not be commercialised on the news
no outrageous phantoms to stop
celebrated hatred
nowadays I fear asserting life
as brown as I am
because there is a gun

loaded with cynical hateful vows
and a bullet that is made a national-hero
reaching.

Please
don’t
shoot.

The world is broken and tainted
stolen and painted
into a picture
that only some would like to see

When the terrorist is white
there won’t be apologies
nor will there be mourning
this is the American good heart,
white heart,
advocating
the intricately satisfied
—yet blind—

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Terrorists Supported by America: U.S. Helicopter Delivering Weapons to the Islamic State (ISIS), Shot Down by Iraqi “Popular Forces”

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The Iraqi popular forces who shot down a US helicopter carrying weapons for the ISIL forces in Al-Baqdadi region released the photos of the shot down chopper through the Internet.

A group of Iraqi popular forces known as Al-Hashad Al-Shabi shot down the US Army helicopter that was carrying weapons for the ISIL in the western parts of Al-Baqdadi region in Al-Anbar province on Thursday.

Last week, Head of the Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli announced that the helicopters of the US-led anti-ISIL coalition were dropping weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL terrorists in the Southern parts of Tikrit.

He underscored that he had documents and photos showing that the US Apache helicopters airdropped foodstuff and weapons for the ISIL.

On Friday the Iraqi security forces regained control of al-Baghdadi district from the ISIL terrorists.

“Iraqi security forces seized control of al-Shohadaa neighborhood and 13 Daesh (ISIL) militants were killed in the clashes,” Lt. Saoud al-Ibeidi said.

Iraqi forces on February 18 managed to end ISIL’s 10-day siege of al-Baghdadi district’s residential area and killed about 150 terrorists, according to police sources.

Last Monday, a senior lawmaker disclosed that Iraq’s army had shot down two British planes as they were carrying weapons for the ISIL terrorists in Al-Anbar province.

“The Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee has access to the photos of both planes that are British and have crashed while they were carrying weapons for the ISIL,” al-Zameli said, according to a Monday report of the Arabic-language information center of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

He said the Iraqi parliament has asked London for explanations in this regard.

The senior Iraqi legislator further unveiled that the government in Baghdad is receiving daily reports from people and security forces in al-Anbar province on numerous flights by the US-led coalition planes that airdrop weapons and supplies for ISIL in terrorist-held areas.

The Iraqi lawmaker further noted the cause of such western aids to the terrorist group, and explained that the US prefers a chaotic situation in Anbar Province which is near the cities of Karbala and Baghdad as it does not want the ISIL crisis to come to an end.

Earlier today, a senior Iraqi provincial official lashed out at the western countries and their regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, revealing that US and Israeli-made weapons have been discovered from the areas purged of ISIL terrorists.

“We have discovered weapons made in the US, European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL’s control in Al-Baqdadi region,” the Al-Ahad news website quoted Head of Al-Anbar Provincial Council Khalaf Tarmouz as saying.

He noted that the weapons made by the European countries and Israel were discovered from the terrorists in the Eastern parts of the city of Ramadi.

Al-Zameli had also disclosed in January that the anti-ISIL coalition’s planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Al-Zameli underlined that the coalition is the main cause of ISIL’s survival in Iraq.

“There are proofs and evidence for the US-led coalition’s military aid to ISIL terrorists through air(dropped cargoes),” he told FNA in January.

He noted that the members of his committee have already proved that the US planes have dropped advanced weaponry, including anti-aircraft weapons, for the ISIL, and that it has set up an investigation committee to probe into the matter.

“The US drops weapons for the ISIL on the excuse of not knowing about the whereabouts of the ISIL positions and it is trying to distort the reality with its allegations.

He noted that the committee had collected the data and the evidence provided by eyewitnesses, including Iraqi army officers and the popular forces, and said, “These documents are given to the investigation committee … and the necessary measures will be taken to protect the Iraqi airspace.”

Also in January, another senior Iraqi legislator reiterated that the US-led coalition is the main cause of ISIL’s survival in Iraq.

“The international coalition is only an excuse for protecting the ISIL and helping the terrorist group with equipment and weapons,” Jome Divan, who is member of the al-Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said.

He said the coalition’s support for the ISIL is now evident to everyone, and continued, “The coalition has not targeted ISIL’s main positions in Iraq.”

In late December, Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Commission MP disclosed that a US plane supplied the ISIL terrorist organization with arms and ammunition in Salahuddin province.

MP Majid al-Gharawi stated that the available information pointed out that US planes are supplying ISIL organization, not only in Salahuddin province, but also other provinces, Iraq TradeLink reported.

He added that the US and the international coalition are “not serious in fighting against the ISIL organization, because they have the technological power to determine the presence of ISIL gunmen and destroy them in one month”.

Gharawi added that “the US is trying to expand the time of the war against the ISIL to get guarantees from the Iraqi government to have its bases in Mosul and Anbar provinces.”

Salahuddin security commission also disclosed that “unknown planes threw arms and ammunition to the ISIL gunmen Southeast of Tikrit city”.

Also in Late December, a senior Iraqi lawmaker raised doubts about the seriousness of the anti-ISIL coalition led by the US, and said that the terrorist group still received aids dropped by unidentified aircraft.

“The international coalition is not serious about air strikes on ISIL terrorists and is even seeking to take out the popular (voluntary) forces from the battlefield against the Takfiris so that the problem with ISIL remains unsolved in the near future,” Nahlah al-Hababi told FNA.

“The ISIL terrorists are still receiving aids from unidentified fighter jets in Iraq and Syria,” she added.

Hababi said that the coalition’s precise airstrikes are launched only in those areas where the Kurdish Pishmarga forces are present, while military strikes in other regions are not so much precise.

In late December, the US-led coalition dropped aids to the Takfiri militants in an area North of Baghdad.

Field sources in Iraq told al-Manar that the international coalition airplanes dropped aids to the terrorist militants in Balad, an area which lies in Salahuddin province North of Baghdad.

In October, a high-ranking Iranian commander also slammed the US for providing aid supplies to ISIL, adding that the US claims that the weapons were mistakenly airdropped to ISIL were untrue.

“The US and the so-called anti-ISIL coalition claim that they have launched a campaign against this terrorist and criminal group – while supplying them with weapons, food and medicine in Jalawla region (a town in Diyala Governorate, Iraq). This explicitly displays the falsity of the coalition’s and the US’ claims,” Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said.

The US claimed that it had airdropped weapons and medical aid to Kurdish fighters confronting the ISIL in Kobani, near the Turkish border in Northern Syria.

The US Defense Department said that it had airdropped 28 bundles of weapons and supplies, but one of them did not make it into the hands of the Kurdish fighters.

Video footage later showed that some of the weapons that the US airdropped were taken by ISIL militants.

The Iranian commander insisted that the US had the necessary intelligence about ISIL’s deployment in the region and that their claims to have mistakenly airdropped weapons to them are as unlikely as they are untrue.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Revolution Iraq

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PFLP-GC asks Egypt to stop offending Palestinians

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RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) condemned the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters’ verdict branding Hamas a terrorist organization.

The PFLP-GC confirmed that Hamas has always been a resistance movement fighting against the Israeli occupation, as the only enemy, along with other Palestinian factions.

In a statement on Sunday, the PFLP-GC asked the Egyptian government as well as all Egyptian state organizations to put an end to the offenses which affect all the Palestinian factions and segments.

The statement added that this verdict offends the Egyptian people’s role in the Arab region, adding that the Egyptian people consider Israel the real enemy of the Arab and Islamic Nation.

The Front asked all Egyptian parties to confront such a dangerous deviation which is led by pro-Israel figures supporting the normalization of relations with Israel.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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For Palestinians, there is no Obama-Netanyahu rift

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Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one

Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.

Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.

The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with over two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.

Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.

But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.

Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward atepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.

She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”

These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.

I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.

Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”

Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.

Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.

Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.

Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.

Yet even senior Israeli leaders and officers have often acknowledged that Palestinian armed groups, especially Hamas, have meticulously stuck to ceasefire agreements, as they are doing currently.

Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.

As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.

Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.

Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.

That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.

It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Opinion others

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Settlers storm Aqsa Mosque amid tightened security measures

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OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A group of extremist Jewish settlers stormed the holy Aqsa Mosque on Sunday under tight security measures from al-Magharebah Gate. Worshipers responded by chants of Allahu Akbar.

Islamic Awqaf sources said the Israeli policemen still hold the identity cards of Jerusalemite women while passing through the Mosque’s various gates.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authorities continue to deport many of the worshipers, including women, out of Jerusalem under false pretenses. Such pretexts include disturbing Jewish extremists during “tours” of the Aqsa Mosque’s plazas.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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Iraq says launches offensive on Islamic State north of Baghdad

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Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite fighters chant slogans as they gather at Udhaim dam, north of Baghdad March 1, 2015. Iraqi soldiers and pro-government Shi’ite militias have been massing in preparation for an attack on Islamic State strongholds along the Tigris River to the north and south of Tikrit, hometown of executed former president Saddam Hussein

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s army and Shi’ite militia have launched a long-awaited offensive against Islamic State in Salahuddin province, a stronghold of the radical Islamist fighters north of Baghdad, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday.

The ultra-radical fighters control several strongholds in the mainly Sunni Muslim province of Salahuddin, including Tikrit, hometown of executed former president Saddam Hussein.

They also hold other towns on the Tigris river, north of the government-held city of Samarra which Abadi visited on Sunday.

“The prime minister and armed forces chief … announce the start of the security campaign to liberate Salahuddin,” a statement issued by Abadi’s office said as he met military leaders in the province, where thousands of troops and militia have gathered for battle.

In comments broadcast on Iraqi television, Abadi said the Islamist militants would be pushed out of all of Salahuddin and offered their supporters a final opportunity to hand themselves in. “I call upon all those who have been deluded and made mistakes in past to lay down arms today,” he said.

“This is their last chance. If they insist on staying on their wrong path they will receive the fair punishment they deserve because they … stood with terrorism.”

Thousands of troops and fighters from Shi’ite militias known as Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) have been mobilised for the campaign against Islamic State in Salahuddin.

On Saturday residents reported heavy clashes around Samarra after suicide bombers blew themselves up near to security forces in attacks which may have aimed at disrupting the army and militia preparations for the campaign.

Abadi’s announcement follows several failed attempts to drive the militants out of Tikrit since they swept towards Baghdad last June, adding large parts of north and west Iraq to the swathes of neighbouring Syria already under their control.

Months of U.S.-led air strikes, backed up by the Shi’ite militias, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi soldiers have contained Islamic State and pushed them back from around Baghdad, the Kurdish north, and the eastern province of Diyala.

But they have held most of their strongholds in Salahuddin and taken new territory in the western province of Anbar. Fighting around al-Baghdadi in Anbar has highlighted the challenge of defeating Islamic State fighters.

A senior U.S. officer said last week 800 Iraqi forces were participating in the battle and appeared set to drive the militants back. His optimistic comments echoed those of Iraq’s defence minister.

But nearly two weeks after launching the operation to retake what are little more than a handful of villages on the Euphrates river, five miles from a major military base, Baghdad has yet to declare victory.

Abadi also visited Samarra’s restored Shi’ite Askari shrine, which was blown up in a 2006 attack which triggered the worst period of Iraq’s sectarian bloodshed, Iraqi television said.

(Source / 01.03.2015)

Written by altahrir

March 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Revolution Iraq

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