The Asian Age

Iraq fight­back on after end­ing ISIS siege

Ma­liki says Iraq to prove grave­yard for ISIS Syria, rebels clash as UN bids to free mon­i­tors

-

Su­laiman Bek ( Iraq)/ Golan Heights, Sept. 1: Iraqi troops, Kur­dish fight­ers and Shia mili­ti­a­men backed by US airstrikes pressed a fight­back against ji­hadist- led mil­i­tants on Mon­day, buoyed by break­ing a weeks- long siege of a Shia town.

The mil­i­tary gains came as care­taker Premier Nouri al- Ma­liki vowed the coun­try would prove a “grave­yard” for the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant ( ISIS), now known as the Is­lamic State.

The break­through to the town of Amerli on Sun­day was the big­gest of­fen­sive suc­cess for the Iraqi gov­ern­ment since ISIS- led mil­i­tants over­ran much of the Sunni Arab heart­land north and west of Bagh­dad in June.

The United States car­ried out limited airstrikes in the area dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, the first time it has ex­panded its more than three- week air cam­paign against ISIS beyond the far north of Iraq.

Iraqi forces kept up the mo­men­tum on Mon­day, with Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers and Shia mili­ti­a­men re­tak­ing Su­laiman Bek, a town north of Amerli that had been an im­por­tant mil­i­tant strong­hold.

“Within a few hours, we were able to clear the town com­pletely,” the com­man­der of the Shia Badr mili­tia, trans­port min­is­ter Hadi al- Ameri, said amid heavy se­cu­rity in Su­laiman Bek. Fight­ers cel­e­brated in the aban­doned town, fir­ing in the air, chant­ing slo­gans against ISIS and show­ing off a cap­tured black flag of the group. Troops backed by Kur­dish fight­ers and Shia mili­ti­a­men also sur­rounded the nearby town of Yankaja and pounded it with ar­tillery and ma­chine- gun fire as they fought to re­take it from mil­i­tants.

Be­fore the op­er­a­tion, the mainly Shia Turk­men res­i­dents of Amerli were en­dan­gered both be­cause of their faith, which ji­hadists con­sider heresy, and their re­sis­tance to the mil­i­tants who be­sieged the town for 11 weeks.

UN Iraq en­voy Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov had warned that they faced a “mas­sacre” by the be­sieg­ing mil­i­tants. Mr Ma­liki vis­ited Amerli, 160 kilo­me­tres north of Bagh­dad on Mon­day, vow­ing that “Iraq will be a grave­yard” for the ISIS. The op­er­a­tion to break the siege of the town was launched on Satur­day after days of prepa­ra­tions.

More pledges were made to pro­vide arms to Iraq’s Kurds, who are bat­tling ji­hadists in north­ern and east­ern Iraq. Backed by US airstrikes, Kur­dish troops have suc­ceeded in claw­ing back some ar­eas of the north that they lost to the ji­hadists last month. Ger­many will send an­ti­tank rocket launch­ers, ri­fles and hand grenades to support Kur­dish forces, the Ger­man de­fence min­istry an­nounced.

Mean­while, Syr­ian troops and Is­lamist rebels bat­tled close to the armistice line with Is­rael in the Golan Heights on Mon­day, as the UN pressed ef­forts to free 44 peace­keep­ers held by the in­sur­gents. The un­rest on Is­rael’s doorstep fol­lowed a spillover of mor­tar and gun­fire into Is­raeli- con­trolled ter­ri­tory, putting the Jewish state on high alert and prompt­ing it to shoot down a drone over the oc­cu­pied plateau on Sun­day.

Sev­eral mor­tar rounds struck on the edges of the cease­fire line early Mon­day as the com­bat­ants ex­changed rocket, mor­tar and tank fire near the Quneitra cross­ing, which Al Qaeda- linked rebels seized last week.

On the other hand, the UN was work­ing to lo­cate and re­lease 44 Fi­jian peace­keep­ers whom the in­sur­gents cap­tured while they over­ran Quneitra, as 72 Filipino mem­bers of the same force es­caped a rebel siege on their po­si­tions nearby.

The Fi­jians were “safe” but their where­abouts un­cer­tain.

 ?? — AP ?? Iraqi forces kept up the mo­men­tum on Mon­day, with Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers and Shia mili­ti­a­men re­tak­ing Su­laiman Bek, a town north of Amerli Iraqi se­cu­rity forces and Shia mili­ti­a­men cel­e­brate after break­ing a siege by the ex­trem­ist group on Amerli,...
— AP Iraqi forces kept up the mo­men­tum on Mon­day, with Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers and Shia mili­ti­a­men re­tak­ing Su­laiman Bek, a town north of Amerli Iraqi se­cu­rity forces and Shia mili­ti­a­men cel­e­brate after break­ing a siege by the ex­trem­ist group on Amerli,...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India