Tags / Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
March 15, 2015
(IraqiNews.com) President of Kurdistan Massoud Barzani said on Sunday, that the doors are open for Arabs to fight in the ranks of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, calling the federal government to do its duty in the liberated areas. Barzani said during a meeting with Arab tribal elders attended by IraqiNews.com, “The doors are open for Arabs to join the Peshmerga ranks in their fight against terrorism, and without discrimination,” urging the federal government to do its duty and provide services in the liberated areas. Barzani added, “We should not feed grudges and hatred. Those who refused loyalty to ISIS must live freely and with dignity, while those who chose to be with ISIS, their fate will be like ISIS’ fate.” “All Kurdish areas have been liberated and are now ready to contribute in the operations to liberate the rest of Iraq,” calling on everyone to cooperate in order to build a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood.
March 3, 2015
Soldiers from the Iraqi Army and the Shiite umbrella group of militias, Hashd al-Shaabi, fire on ISIS positions in the al-Alam area of Tikrit, the birthplace and historical stronghold of Saddam Hussein. The men in this particular video, shot with a camera mounted on one of the fighter's helmets, are from the Ali al-Akbar brigade. Obtained by a Transterra Media contributor embedded with the Iraqi troops, this video shows militiamen advancing toward the battlefield, loading their weapons, taking up positions and firing on ISIS-held bases in the near distance with automatic and rocket-fire.
The amount of IEDs left by the Islamic State is staggering. 'Not normal', says the mayor of Makhmour. According to Kurdish government and Peshmerga officials, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines planted by Islamic State militants are the biggest cause of casualties for Peshmerga forces. ISIS has adopted the tactic of heavily seeding all of the territory it withdraws from with the deadly devices, with the intent of slowing down Peshmerga advances. Some IEDs are also intentionally left in fields and homes to target civilians according to Kurdish officials. We go to the frontlines with a Peshmerga engineer team specialized in dismantling the devices, and speak to a farmer who is affected by Islamic State IEDs. The mayor of the city of Makhmour, whose community is still dealing with getting rid of massive amounts of IEDs ISIS left in August, also weighs in on the subject.
27 November 2014 Destruction from recent airstrikes in Raqqa by Syrian Regime warplanes.
November 25, 2014
At least 95 people were killed and 120 injured on Tuesday in a series of airstrikes believed to be carried out by Syrian government forces against civilian neighborhoods in Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The airstrikes caused large scale devastation in residential buildings and public squares. A mosque and the local museum were also damaged in the bombing.
Raqqa is the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
An international coalition led by the United States has launched a bombing campaign against ISIS positions since September.
Eyewitnesses, however, believe that these airstrikes were carried out by the Syrian government’s air force.
The Syrian regime has repeatedly targeted the city with airstrikes since it lost control over it in March 2013
During the days of terror on Mount Sinjar, about 200 women were kidnapped by the militias of the Islamic State to be converted to Islam and sold in the occupied cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. This barbarism is not new to the chronicles of war.
The Islamic State's attack on Mount Sinjar led to the exodus of about 500,000 people, mostly from the Christian, Yazidi and Shabak minorities. These refugees, currently under the protection of the Kurdish militias, are living in the streets, under bridges or in abandoned places in Erbil and surrounding villages. Many of those who manage to escape the conflict have suffered losses in their family that effect them not only economically, but mentally and emotionally. Depression and anxiety in addition to insecurity are a constant challenge.
The UNHCR anticipated there to be over 900,000 internally displaced people in Iraq by the end of 2014. With the rise of ISIS, that number has been more than tripled, with 2.9 million displaced according to International Displacement Monitoring Center. The situation of internally displaced women, not only in Iraq but in conflict zones around the world, is especially precarious as the breakdown in social structures is a risk factor for gender-based violence. In their planning document for 2014, the UNHCR says it is ramping up its efforts to protect refugee and internally displaced women. However, agencies like the UNHCR as well as local associations can only care for and provide aid to so many displaced people, leaving others to fend for themselves.
The condition of the women and children displaced in Iraq is tragic: not only from a material point of view, but also from a psychological and ethical perspective. While talking with them, the elderly were crying because they don't see a future for their land, culture or traditions and were continuously asking, "What did we do wrong to deserve to be killed?" The women were mostly passive, trapped between emotions, tears, the inability to react, “deafened by pain and suffering.” They seemed to understand that as time passes by, the hope of returning to a normal and fair life fades away.
September 24-26, 2014
Suruc, Turkey; Kobane, Syria
Syrian-Kurdish refugees from the border town of Kobane are continue to shuffle to and from Turkey, returning to Kobane in moments of calm, and fleeing again as the Islamic State (IS) group pushes closer to the center of town. Turkish authorities have at times sealed the border, leading to clashes between refugees and Turkish police.
According to Turkish authorities, the number of refugees seeking shelter in Turkey from the Islamic State group's advance across northeastern Syria has hit 140,000.The head of Turkey's AFAD disaster management agency, Fuat Oktay, said the figure is the result of Syrians escaping the area near the Syrian border town of Kobane, where fighting has raged between IS and Kurdish fighters since September 18.
Clashes broke out between refugees and Turkish forces on September 26, as refugees destroyed the border fence from inside Turkey to help their fellow Syrians escape. Turkish security forces replied with tear gas, paint pellets, and water cannons.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State group has taken control of 64 villages in northeastern Syria. It says that the fate of 800 Kurds from these villages is unknown, adding that the Islamic State group executed 11 civilians, including two boys.
Western forces bombed IS troops outside Kobane, but without proper weapons, the Kurds might not be able to hold the city much longer.
September 21, 2014
al-Sabit, Aleppo Province, Syria
After the battles between ISIS and the FSA, control of rural areas north of Aleppo went to ISIS, from (al-Raei) town to (Azaaz). ISIS now controls an area that runs from (al-Raei) south to the town of (Marei) and the villages of (Souran) and (Ehtemilat), ISIS now holds a straight line from (al-Bab) city in eastern Aleppo to the town of (Marea). where a number of opposition armed factions are now participating in the ongoing battle. to the east, fighters from the (Nour al-Din al-Zinki) movement in (Ehtimilat) and (Souran) are fighting along side fighters from the (Fajr al-Horeya) brigade, and the (Jaish al-Mojahideen), all affiliated to the FSA and the fighters of the (Islamic Front).
On the other hand lines are being formed and held in the town of (Raii) in northern rural Aleppo, where fighters from the (Islamic Front) have the biggest presence with fighters from (al-Nusra) brigade.
up till this moment the lines mentioned above are holding and no advances from any side were recorded. only mutual artillery fire is an indication to an active front.
Speaker: “Allahu Akbar. We are now in the northern area. The Free Syrian army is engaged in freeing the town of Al Sabit. We are standing next to the mosque of Al Sabit, fighting against Al-Baghdadi’s troops. With us now is the leader of this offensive. Abu Ali, tell us about this battle.”
Abu Ali: “Thanks be to God, who helped us come into this town, and we were thankfully able to free it from those dogs. Hopefully we’ll advance even further up into the town’s gate.”
Speaker: “These people are part of a gathering of the inhabitants of Al Sabit to free the town. Here with us is Abu Mahmoud. Abu Mahmoud, what comments do you have?”
Abu Mahmoud: “I’m not available for comment now.”
Speaker: “Hamid, what do you want to say about the current situation?”
Hamid: “When the bullets started to fire at my car with Abu Youssef inside, I tried to open the door, but they shut it and kept it closed with all of us inside.”
Speaker: “So we’re actually talking to Hamid, the living martyr. And now we’re with another fighter, Abu Youssef. Earlier we tried talking to him but he was called away. Now what do you have to say?”
Abu Youssef: “Whoever God blesses with long life will not be harmed no matter what. Hopefully God will protect us all. Allahu Akbar.”
Speaker: Now I’m crouching down to show the car that we escaped out of. No one can believe anyone came out of it alive, but we all did by the grace of God. Here is the car. Its tires were shot and the whole left side is full of bullet holes. Thanks be to God that we came out of it in safety. Here are more fighters working to free the town. Allahu Akbar.
Commander giving orders to soldiers: “We’re going to advance in groups of three. I’ll go first and no one ask any questions. Cover me. I’ll go and hide behind that tank. Follow me. Now go and hide next to those tires.
September 6, 2014
A Yazidi tailor has established a sewing workshop for traditional handmade clothes for Yazidi women. In their escape from marauding ISIS fighters, many women tore their clothes. Since the traditional Yazidi dress is not available in shops or the market, the workshop was established to enable women to preserve their cultural identity. The outfit has a special traditional and religious value, representing peace and purity.
SOUNDBITE1: Hadeya, Seamstress (woman, Kurdish)
(00:38 - 02:11) “These are the traditional outfits of Yazidi women. We are sewing them here because they are not available in the market. The design of these clothes is very unique because they have a ring called a “took” and it is a symbol for the Yazidi outfit. We will always wear this type of clothing, especially the elderly who wear white outfits, which represents purity and clarity. This is how we view our religion, as pure. I am very pleased to be doing this job because it helps us maintain our culture. We provide these clothes for free, because the person who launched this project (Ali Ezideen), did it so he can provide this service for people without for anything in return. We, as seamstresses, do not get paid. We are volunteers. We work on approximately 32 pieces per day and we meet with 20-40 women everyday. We are 6-7 volunteers in this project. We established this workshop because most of the clothes of the Yazidi women got torn while they were fleeing Sinjar to escape the ISIS terror, and this outfit is not available in the market.”
SOUNDBITE 2: Vati, Seamstress (woman, Kurdish)
(03:27-08:48) “We are volunteer seamstresses. I am very happy to contribute in this work because it serves the Yazidi religion and its followers. Also it helps maintain our cultural heritage since it represents the purity of our religion, I ask everyone to help us protect our religion.”
SOUNDBITE 3: Fayez, Yazidi volunteer (man, Arabic)
(03:27-08:48) “When they were in the mountain, it was very hard. There were no bathroom, or places to sleep, or even food, so the outfits got ruined because of sleeping on the floor and they were all torn. So Ali Ezdeen thought that Yazidi women must be really tired after this hard trip and their clothes are ruined, so he purchased an amount of fabric that we can turn into Yazidi outfits. Then they will be distributed among the women. I supervise the work of the seamstresses and Ali is responsible for the whole project. Here we have two seamstresses, one designer, and three people to take the measurements and the sizes. We go and take the sizes of the old women in the camps and the people who came from Sinjar and are staying in the unfinished buildings, then tailor these outfits and distribute them.”
Interviewer: What are the ages and categories that you tailor for?
“Only for the elderly, the younger generation can wear any type of clothes, but the old women cannot. It is a tradition, and it is very hard to find.”
Interviewer: What is the significance of these outfits for the Yazidi woman?
“First of all, the color: the old Yazidi women only wear white, it is a tradition that the elderly in the Yazidi religion should wear white. It is a symbol for the religion.”
Interviewer: What is the difference between this outfit and any other outfit you can find in the market?
“The difference is you cannot find these outfits in the market, they have to be tailored upon request and they cannot be found in ay shop. The Yazidis are a minority, and their outfits are not widely produced. They do not come from Europe like every other outfit. They are very rare.”
Interviewer: Is it considered a good thing to wear this kind of outfits?
“Yes to wear this is a good thing, and they do not wear anything but those outfits. It is mentioned in our book that the blue color is forbidden for the elderly.”
Interviewer: But you are wearing blue
“Yes but as I said, it is only forbidden for the elderly.”
Interviewer: How many pieces do you tailor per day?
Interviewer: Is it for men and women?
“No only for women.” Interviewer: What do you ask from people?
“I ask for help from anyone who can to help this religion, because it has suffered a lot throughout the years. I wish everyone can do charity work and help other such as Ali Ezdeen. This person donated everything he has for the Yazidi refugees.”
Interviewer: Do you consider this work as a service for your religion?
“Yes of course, we feel like we are helping ourselves by doing this kind of work, it is different from when someone gives you money or a place to stay. We feel like we are helping ourselves by working in this workshop.”
SOUNDBITE 4: Yazidi woman standing in front of the tent with a child (woman, Kurdish)
(10:36-11:13) Interviewer: Why are you wearing white?
“It is our custom and our culture.”
Interviewer: How so?
“It is the culture of the Yazidis”
Interviewer: Do you always wear this outfit?
SOUNDBITE 5: Yazidi woman (woman, Kurdish)
“I am very content with our outfits, it is our cultural heritage, and while we were coming through the mountain, most of our clothes got torn, but still I will always wear the white outfit.”
Following an ultimatum issued by ISIS, there was a Christian exodus from Mosul. The houses and churches they left behind have been seized by Sunni extremists. ISIS has locked the doors and put signs of Islamic State ownership on the buildings left by the Christians.
23 July 2014
After the city of Mosul fell under the control of the Sunni tribes and ISIS, Christians have become very afraid of what action ISIS might take against them. ISIS released a document stipulating that Christians in Mosul had three options, converting to Islam, paying a special tax, or being executed. Those who did not comply to the terms had to leave the newly formed ‘Islamic State’ and all their possessions were confiscated by ISIS. Almost all of the Christian community fled the city in terror and travelled to Erbil and Duhook where they slept in churches.
The video shows two cars carrying a family that arrived from Mosul today after passing through an ISIS checkpoint where their money, jewellery, and car were taken from them.
Abu Youssef, the first speaker, explains their trip from Mosul. However he, along with the priest, refused to appear in front of the camera out of fear that they would killed should they ever return to the city. They were also afraid that their homes in Mosul would be destroyed or burned down if they were seen on camera saying negative things about ISIS.
Due to security reasons, we were not allowed to film the hall on the lower level, where families are staying, or where the kitchen and sleeping spaces are. However, we were allowed to take footage of one room that included a family with special needs (disabilities) and to meet with them and ask them about their situation in their new home.
Abu Youssef: Father of a Christian family that just moved out of Mosul
Father D. Meti: The priest in Um al-Nour church
Abu Reem: Father of an immigrated Christian family
July 6, 2014
Doghat village, Nineveh, Iraq
Video shows the shrine of Sheikh Mohamad al-Bateni, a Yezidi temple in the Doghat village of Nineveh, north of Mosul.
Sheikh Ismail, the custodian of the shrine, performs rituals and speaks about the changing situation of the Yezidi minority in Iraq, after extremist Sunni militants took control of Mosul and vast swathes of Nineveh province.
Despite the concerns of Sheikh Ismail for the safety of all minorities in the area, Doghat is now controlled by Peshmerga forces, which he says ‘provide us with protection’. However, a video previously released by ISIS shows captured Yazidis in an ISIS prison located on the Iraqi-Syrian border. An ISIS fighter in the video states ‘the prisoners are Yazidis, they worship the Devil’.
The Yazidi religion is an ancient oriental belief mostly spread in areas of Mesopotamia. They worship Melek Taus and believe he is a proud angel who rebelled and was cast into Hell by God. After being reconciled with God, he became chief of the angels.
Sheikh Ismail: “The Yezidi live mostly in Baghdad. There they own shops and work. In the first attack against the Yezidi, seven people were killed. Another attack happened last year and eight people died. In the current situation they kidnap the Yezidi.”
Does kidnapping happen in this village?
Sheikh Ismail: “Yes it happens in this village and in all other villages. A lot of kidnapping happens. They look at IDs and kidnap people.”
Is a Yezidi person in Mosul afraid to say he is Yezidi?
“Yes of course! He says he is Christian. Of course a Yezidi person fears to say he is Yezidi.
To be honest the situation is scary for the Yezidi sect, and for the Christians and for all the other minorities. They destroy our shrines, and it is a scary thing. The Yezidi sect is tolerant of all other religions but ISIS and the rebels attack the villages and say “they are Yezidi or they are Christian” and it is a scary thing, However, our area, the Christian area, is under the protection of the Peshmerga. If Section 140 is applied we are under the control of Kurdistan. Under these circumstances we are not afraid, we are under the protection of the Peshmerga and the central protection forces.”
As a man of religion, are you willing to carry a weapon and fight and defend your religion and your land, if an attack happens?
“I am willing to defend my village, my honour, and my shrines. Me and every person who listens to me. If, God forbid, anything happens and they want us to leave the area, we would rather die than leave. We will defend our village, our shrines, and our dignity with everything we have. We already had to back in the war between Iraq and Iran. Didn’t we defend Iraq? Didn’t the Christians defend Iraq? But you do not understand whatever the situation is, whether it’s ISIS, rebels, or the government not doing its work, Sunni or Shiite, the civilians are always afraid. The Yezidi are not emigrating now, but they are considering immigrating to foreign countries, for the sake of their future. Whoever lives in Baghdad and in those areas, definitely considers immigrating if they are able to do so”.
Al Anbar, Saudi-Iraqi Border
Iraqi soldiers on the border with Saudi Arabia take security precautions because of strange behavior seen on the Saudi side of the border. They believe ISIS are preparing an attack.
Iraqi soldiers hiding near the Al-Ukhaider Fortress, 50km south of Karbala, having been ordered to retreat from the Syrian border. On the way to supply the border patrol with aid, Sayed Mohammad al-Talkani, the representative of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Iraqi Member of Parliament, Fatm al Kreiti, found 2,500 soldiers sheltering in the archaeological site. They lacked food and water; many of them suffered from starvation and some had become sick and died. When asked why they retreated they said that they received orders from the officers, with no reason given, to abandon their posts and were told to leave the border open for ISIL to enter and seize the abandoned weapons left there.
Armed Shia fighters from the al-Akida brigade celebrate their graduation after seven days of combat training under guidance of Iranian military advisors. Sheikh Maytham al-Karbalaei, a leader in the brigade stated, “This regiment was trained in the most modern tactics of urban warfare, and how to respond to any sudden attack against the Shiite holy sites.”
The brigade of 2,500 fighters is independent and does not answer to any governmental authority. It is responsible for the protection of al-Ataba al-Abasey shrine and receives its orders from Iraqi-Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Ali al-Sayed al-Sistani.
After bombings in Qaraqosh, the Iraqi government has decided to evacuate the entire town. About 5,000 families have taken refuge in the city of Erbil, where schools and sports centers have been made available by local volunteers and aid organizations.
A major city for Christians in Iraq, Qaraqosh fell to ISIS shortly after the latter's conquest of Mosul. Residents of Qaraqosh were reportedly terrorized by ISIS, who took Sharia law into their own hands, lashing one man for selling cigarettes, and killing several women found guilty of adultery. The city later suffered heavy bombardment during fighting between ISIS fighters and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
June 19, 2014
Iraqi-farmers from the area around Baghdad gather in the city to form fighting brigades that will fight ISIL. Under the administration of the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, the farmers are answering the call of Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the Iraqi-Shia, to take up arms against ISIL. The Ministry of Agriculture is helping organize farmers across the country form their own fighting brigades.
June 12, 2014
Gop Jalil, Mosul, Iraq
Images of Peshmerga soldiers at a checkpoint after they gained controlled the village of Gop Jalil located on Mosul-Irbil road. The new checkpoint is located only 100m from ISIL frontlines.
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have overrun the Iraqi city of Tikrit and moved closer to the Baji oil refinery, the biggest refinery in the country, as they make gains in their rapid military advance against the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government.
The ISIL seized the city of Mosul on June 10 in their push to create a Sunni Caliphate straddling the border between Iraq and Syria.