Latest Iraq news

Turkey detains five Dutch people seeking to enter Syria

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish security forces have detained five Dutch citizens who were trying to cross the border illegally …

  • U.S. allies strike 14 targets in Iraq, one in Syria 9 hours ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Members of the U.S.-led coalition struck targets in Iraq and Syria overnight as part of the fight against Islamic State militants, according to a press release from the combined joint task force. The attacks struck 14 targets in Iraq and one in Syria, including positions held by militants near the cities of Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah. (Reporting by Howard Schneider; editing by Susan Thomas) More »

  • U.S., allies target Islamic State in Tikrit, other Iraqi cities
    U.S., allies target Islamic State in Tikrit, other Iraqi cities Sat, Mar 28, 2015

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and coalition forces conducted 18 air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq during a 24-hour period, with eight strikes near militant-held Tikrit, the U.S. military said on Saturday. The Tikrit strikes destroyed 11 fighting positions, a vehicle, and a potential car bomb, it said in a statement. Some strikes also hit three Islamic State fighting and tactical units. Elsewhere in Iraq, forces struck targets near Fallujah, Mosul, Tal Afar, Ar Rutbah and Bayji, as well, it said. ... More »

  • UN vows to step up Iraq heritage protection
    UN vows to step up Iraq heritage protection Sat, Mar 28, 2015

    The head of the United Nations cultural body vowed in Baghdad Saturday to step up measures aimed at protecting Iraq's heritage, which has been systematically targeted by jihadist militants. More »

  • 'Major sacrifices' required to retake Tikrit: Iraq officer
    'Major sacrifices' required to retake Tikrit: Iraq officer Sat, Mar 28, 2015

    Retaking the city of Tikrit, where jihadists have rigged streets and buildings with explosives, will require "major sacrifices" on the part of Iraqi forces, a senior intelligence officer said Saturday. More »

  • Bangladesh central bank governor says banks to be investigated for militant … Sat, Mar 28, 2015

    By Serajul Quadir DHAKA (Reuters) - The Bangladesh central bank governor said on Saturday all commercial banks would be investigated for links to Islamist militants and warned lenders would be shut down if found to be involved in funding such organisations. Bangladesh Bank's Atiur Rahman said the emergence of Islamic State (IS), the militant group active in Iraq and Syria that has spread to other countries in the region, had also increased the threat of violence and militancy in Bangladesh. "I have asked the intelligence unit of the Bangladesh Bank, the central bank to investigate thorough all banks to find any link with the financing in terror activities and militancy," Atiur told Reuters. More »

  • Turkey says U.S.-led campaign to train Syria rebels delayed by Washington
    Turkey says U.S.-led campaign to train Syria rebels delayed by Washington Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Humeyra Pamuk ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A campaign to train Syrian opposition forces to fight hardline Islamic State militants, which was due to start this month, has been delayed by Washington, Turkey's foreign minister said on Friday. U.S. officials have said they plan to train about 5,000 Syrian fighters annually for three years as part of a program to counter Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria. In Washington, the Pentagon said on Friday that about 2,200 potential recruits for the U.S. military's training program had been identified so far and more than 400 of those were in the "pre-screening process." Full screening would follow. "Because of U.S. (geographic) distance, there has been a minor delay but everything is fine both politically and technically," Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with Turkey's NTV television, adding there was "no delay" from the Turkish side. More »

  • Iraq paramilitaries freeze Tikrit ops over US strikes
    Iraq paramilitaries freeze Tikrit ops over US strikes Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    Key groups in Iraq's paramilitary Popular Mobilisation forces, which have played a leading role in the ongoing assault on Tikrit, are freezing their participation in offensive operations, commanders said Friday. More »

  • France presses at U.N. for Islamic State to face world court
    France presses at U.N. for Islamic State to face world court Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France said on Friday it would push the United Nations Security Council to refer the Islamic State militant group to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United Nations has also said the group, which last year seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, may have committed genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq. More »

  • "Unholy alliance" of Islamists threatens Sweden - spy chief
    "Unholy alliance" of Islamists threatens Sweden - spy chief Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Alistair Scrutton STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden, once cited by Osama bin Laden as the kind of country al Qaeda did not attack, is facing a rising threat from Islamist militants because of the crises in Iraq and Syria, its spy chief said in an interview on Friday. Anders Thornberg told Reuters the number of Swedes travelling to fight in those countries had tripled in the past year, and record immigration to the Nordic country was making it vulnerable to infiltrators from militant groups. Expanding on comments in the security services' annual report last week, he also said Russian espionage had stepped up since the Ukraine crisis: one in three Russian diplomats in Sweden were operating as spies, and there were signs of "war planning" from Moscow to test the country's defences. Sweden's traditional neutrality was long seen as shielding it from militant threats, as acknowledged by al Qaeda leader bin Laden in a speech in 2004. More »

  • Saudi Arabia's Yemen gamble may define its regional role for years
    Saudi Arabia's Yemen gamble may define its regional role for years Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's campaign to stop the Houthis from ruling over Yemen could define its role in the Middle East for years and shape its regional struggle with the rebels' ally Iran. Success would establish Riyadh as de facto leader of the region's Sunni states it has pulled together in a complex armed operation, and embolden it to pursue a more assertive stance against what it sees as the expansionist ambitions of its arch rival Shi'ite Iran in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain. "This campaign has confirmed that Saudi Arabia is the heavyweight power in the region. "If this thing fails, Iran is going to be much more emboldened and in this region there's usually a zero-sum game between Tehran and Riyadh. More »

  • U.S. allies conduct 16 air strikes in Syria, Iraq
    U.S. allies conduct 16 air strikes in Syria, Iraq Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and coalition forces conducted 10 air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq during a 24-hour period, while U.S. forces led six air strikes in Syria, the U.S. military said on Friday. The air strikes in Syria were concentrated near Kobani, destroying five fighting positions, according to a statement. Three of the strikes in Iraq were near Tikrit, destroying vehicles and a potential car bomb. Forces also hit Islamic State targets near Bayji, Fallujah, Mosul, Sinjar, and Tal Afar, the statement said. (Reporting By Lisa Lambert; Editing by Doina Chiacu) More »

  • Official: 1,500 North Caucasus people fight in Iraq, Syria Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian official says about 1,500 residents of Russia's North Caucasus are fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. More »

  • Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for unity after militia pullout
    Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for unity after militia pullout Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric on Friday called for unity among the country's forces battling the Islamic State group after most of the Iran-backed Shiite militias pulled out of the offensive in the militant-held city of Tikrit in protest over U.S. airstrikes there. More »

  • INSIGHT - In Sudan, an unlikely path to jihad for students Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Khalid Abdelaziz KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Tasneem Hussein was a soft-spoken university student in Khartoum when the transformation slowly began. After returning to Sudan from Britain to study pharmacology, she swapped her jeans for the head-to-toe niqab covering. In fact, Hussein went to Turkey with a group of other British-Sudanese medical students en route to Syria, ostensibly to back Islamic State. To many people, the group that now controls large areas of Iraq and Syria is notorious for beheading Western captives and burning a Jordanian military pilot alive. More »

  • Complex US-Iran ties at heart of complicated Mideast policy
    Complex US-Iran ties at heart of complicated Mideast policy Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. and Iranian diplomats gather at a Baroque palace in Europe, a historic nuclear agreement within reach. Over Iraq's deserts, their militaries fight a common foe. Leaders in Washington and Tehran, capitals once a million miles from each other in ideological terms, wrestle for the first time in decades with the notion of a rapprochement. More »

  • IKEA gets first order for flat-pack refugee shelters
    IKEA gets first order for flat-pack refugee shelters Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    Sweden's IKEA has received its first order for temporary flat-pack refugee shelters and expects to double or triple production in the coming three years, it said on Friday. After developing the shelters together with the IKEA Foundation's social enterprise Better Shelter, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has signed a frame agreement for 30,000 units, of which 10,000 will be delivered this summer. The shelter, which comes in flat-pack cardboard boxes, can be assembled on site without additional tools and has a solar panel and a lamp. Better Shelter's head of business development Johan Karlsson said the first units will go to refugee camps in Iraq and possibly Ethiopia. More »

  • U.S. ruled out Shi'ite militias before joining Tikrit strikes - U.S. ge … Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    The United States conditioned its entry into Iraq's battle to retake Tikrit from Islamic State on the withdrawal of Iran-backed Shi'ite militias from the clearing operation, and they are no longer there, a senior U.S. general told Congress on Thursday. The remarks by General Lloyd Austin, who as head of the U.S. military's Central Command oversees American forces in the Middle East, came a day after the U.S.-led coalition started airstrikes around Tikrit after weeks on the sidelines. "They are not a part of the clearing operations in Tikrit," Austin said, acknowledging, however, that Shi'ite forces were still in the area, perhaps across the river, outside the city. More »

  • U.S. special envoy says coalition 'seriously degrading' Islamic Sta … Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    Retired General John Allen, President Barack Obama's special envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State, said on Thursday the U.S.-led effort is weakening the militant group. "We're clearly degrading its capabilities," Allen told a U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Obama's Middle East strategy. Islamic State had lost more than a quarter of the populated territories it had held in Iraq, he said, but added that the situation in Syria is more complex. Several lawmakers questioned Allen closely about U.S. involvement in strikes in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, where Islamic State militants have been holding out for more than three weeks. More »

  • Pakistan mulling Saudi request to send ground troops to Yemen Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    The Sunni Muslim monarchy has been assembling allies to defend Yemen's weak government against rebels backed by both Iran and a former Yemeni president. The Pakistani foreign ministry confirmed that the Saudis have asked Pakistan contribute ground forces to Yemen, Reuters reports, but Defense Minister Khawaja Asif indicated that Pakistan is reluctant to get involved. We have not promised any military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," Asif told parliament. "In Syria, Yemen and Iraq, division is being fueled and it needs to be contained. More »

  • In Sudan, an unlikely path to jihad for students Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    By Khalid Abdelaziz KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Tasneem Hussein was a soft-spoken university student in Khartoum when the transformation slowly began. After returning to Sudan from Britain to study pharmacology, she swapped her jeans for the head-to-toe niqab covering. In fact, Hussein went to Turkey with a group of other British-Sudanese medical students en route to Syria, ostensibly to back Islamic State. To many people, the group that now controls large areas of Iraq and Syria is notorious for beheading Western captives and burning a Jordanian military pilot alive. More »

  • What's at Stake in Tikrit
    What's at Stake in Tikrit Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    An American-led coalition launched 17 airstrikes in Iraq late Wednesday night, hammering Islamic State positions in the northern city of Tikrit. President Barack Obama reportedly approved the U.S. strikes after a request from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, on the condition that Iraqi government forces working closely with American troops assume primary command of the anti-ISIS operation. A group of Shiite militias, supported and advised by Iranian forces, took the lead role in the battle for Tikrit in early March, while the United States focused on striking ISIS in other areas. The battle may also have implications for which country—Iran or the United States—has more leverage with Iraqi leaders in the future. More »

  • Pakistan says not promised to join Saudi coalition in Yemen
    Pakistan says not promised to join Saudi coalition in Yemen Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    Pakistan has made no decision on whether to give military support to a Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday, while pledging to defend Saudi Arabia against any threat to its solidarity. We have not promised any military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," he told parliament. "In Syria, Yemen and Iraq, division is being fuelled and it needs to be contained. The crisis has its fault lines in Pakistan too, (we) don't want to disturb them." Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia on Thursday as Houthi rebels battled with his forces on the outskirts of the southern port city. More »

  • Syria and Iraq wars swell numbers of asylum seekers
    Syria and Iraq wars swell numbers of asylum seekers Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    Conflict pushes number of people requesting asylum in industrialised countries to a 22-year high, UN report says. More »

  • Iraqi Sunni tribe wages costly battle against IS group
    Iraqi Sunni tribe wages costly battle against IS group Fri, Mar 27, 2015

    DULUIYAH, Iraq (AP) — The consequences of the al-Jabouri tribe's decision to ally with Iraq's Shiite-led government against their fellow Sunnis in the Islamic State group are etched on row after row of gravestones in this palm-shaded town by the Tigris River. More »

  • Iraq oil minister sees $70 crude by end 2015 Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    By Ahmed Rasheed and Samia Nakhoul BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi predicted world oil prices could reach $70 a barrel by the end of 2015 and played down the impact of the emerging conflict in Yemen on prices. A global slump in oil prices has slashed government revenue in Iraq, prompting the OPEC producer to renegotiate contracts with oil majors as it faces a costly military campaign against Islamic State militants. "In January prices reached the bottom and they can't go any lower than that," Abdel Mehdi told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. Brent oil rallied for a second straight day on Thursday to more than $59 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched air strikes in Yemen, sparking fears of a wider regional confrontation that could disrupt world crude supplies. More »

  • Obama discusses Yemen, Iran in call with Turkey's Erdogan Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday about pressing issues in the Middle East, including the crisis in Yemen, the White House said. The hour-long call was initiated by Turkey, sources in the Turkish president's office said. It came on a day when Erdogan later complained at a news conference that "Iran is trying to dominate the region" and must withdraw forces from Yemen, Syria and Iraq. More »

  • U.S., allies conduct air strikes in Syria, Iraq against Islamic State - task … Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies staged 29 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq in the latest round of daily attacks, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Thursday. In Iraq, the coalition conducted 17 air strikes near Tikrit, where Iraqi forces have mounted an offensive to try to oust Islamic State militants from the city. Seven air strikes were conducted against Islamic State targets in other parts of Iraq. In Syria, four air strikes hit Islamic State positions near the city of Kobani and one strike hit near Raqqa. ... More »

  • US sees opportunity in Iran's pullback in Iraq Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States persuaded Iraq to sideline Iranian-backed Shiite militias as a condition to American airstrikes in the strategic Iraqi city of Tikrit, a senior U.S. general said Thursday. The move limits Iran's influence, at least temporarily, and could re-invigorate a ground offensive that U.S. officials said had become stalled under Iranian leadership. More »

  • Iraq special forces advance in Tikrit, U.S. coalition joins fight
    Iraq special forces advance in Tikrit, U.S. coalition joins fight Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    By Saif Hameed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi special forces advanced on central Tikrit on Thursday as U.S.-led coalition planes joined the largest offensive yet against Islamic State militants holding out in Saddam Hussein's home city. Coalition jets launched their first air strikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on Wednesday, coming off the sidelines to aid Iraqi forces against the Sunni Islamist militants. Underlying the complex web of loyalties behind the conflict, a senior U.S. general said Washington had demanded the withdrawal of Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias fighting alongside Iraq's government before agreeing to take part. Some of the militias are openly hostile to the United States and have targeted Americans in Iraq in the past, but the fight against Islamic State has put them on the same side. More »

  • US 'hijacking' victory in Iraq's Tikrit: militia groups
    US 'hijacking' victory in Iraq's Tikrit: militia groups Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    Iraqi Shiite militias accused Washington Thursday of hijacking the operation to retake Tikrit, threatening a mass pullout even as regular government forces pressed a final assault. More »

  • Air strikes trigger final push on Iraq's Tikrit
    Air strikes trigger final push on Iraq's Tikrit Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    Iraqi government forces revived a stalled ground operation to retake Tikrit Thursday following US-led air strikes that paved the way but left the anti-jihadist camp deeply divided. More »

  • New British Museum galleries to help counter militants' image of Islam Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    By Michael Roddy LONDON (Reuters) - Art from the Islamic world will be shown in the heart of the British Museum, instead of on the sidelines, in two new galleries funded by a Malaysian foundation which hopes to offset the image created by Islamic militants. The museum, which houses one of the world's largest collections of art and artefacts, said on Thursday it plans to open two new galleries in its south wing devoted to its extensive collection of art from the Islamic world. The two new galleries, which will complement the existing gallery, are being funded for an undisclosed amount by the Albukhary Foundation of Malaysia. Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, the foundation's chairman, said there was an urgent need to make people more aware of the value of art and artefacts from the Islamic world, and the threats to this cultural heritage, especially at a time when historic sites in Iraq are under attack by militants of the Islamic State. More »

  • Contractor extradited from Iraq pleads guilty in bribes case Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    CINCINNATI (AP) — A man extradited from Iraq on military contract bribery charges has pleaded guilty to three charges in an agreement with federal prosecutors, nearly seven years after he was first arrested in Las Vegas and then fled after cutting off an ankle monitor. More »

  • After US airstrikes, Iraq troops start final push for Tikrit
    After US airstrikes, Iraq troops start final push for Tikrit Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi troops started the final phase of an offensive to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Thursday, a military official said, just hours after the United States launched airstrikes on the Islamic State-held city. More »

  • Iraqi Shiite militias 'pulled back' from Tikrit: US
    Iraqi Shiite militias 'pulled back' from Tikrit: US Thu, Mar 26, 2015

    Iraq's Shiite militias have withdrawn from the forefront of an offensive to recapture Tikrit from Islamic State jihadists, allowing Baghdad government troops to take the lead, a top US general said Thursday. More »