Iraq has announced that its war against so-called Islamic State is over.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad that Iraqi troops were now in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The border zone contained the last few areas IS held, following its loss of the town of Rawa in November.
The Iraqi announcement comes two days after the Russian military declared it had accomplished its mission of defeating IS in neighbouring Syria.
He would wander the streets of occupied Mosul by day, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by the extremists. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and stonings, so he could hear killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes.
By night, anonymously from his darkened room, Mosul Eye told the world what was happening. If caught, he too would be killed.
Islamist parties in the Iraqi parliament are pushing an amendment to the personal status law that would allow men to marry girls as young as 9. Human rights activists decried the proposal, which would transfer civil matters to the jurisdiction of clerics.
US military commanders are scrambling to stop a conflict escalating between two forces they arm and train, after the Iraqi army seized the contested, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, from Kurdish peshmerga.
The Pentagon sought to play down the scale of clashes between the two sides, after forces loyal to the central government in Baghdad rapidly took over nearly all the city on Monday, and Kurdish forces abandoned their positions, retreating to nearby oilfields. Video footage showed streams of Kurdish refugees leaving Kirkuk in cars.
More… Iraqi forces drive Kurdish fighters out of town of Sinjar
Kurdish fighters have lost more territory in Iraq, a day after Iraqi forces pushed them out of the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The commander of local Yazidi fighters, Masloum Shingali, said Kurdish forces had left the town of Sinjar before dawn on Tuesday, allowing Shia-led militia fighting with Iraqi forces to move into the town.
Also… The Battles After ISIS
Reports emerged Monday that ISIS had been defeated in Raqqa, the Syrian city it claims as its capital, signaling a major victory in the years-long battle against the militant group and the near end to its self-declared caliphate. But already there are signs the post-ISIS battles are only beginning: In neighboring Iraq, government forces have recaptured Kirkuk, an oil-richprovince that has been under Kurdish control since 2014, after beginning to move on the disputed region over the weekend.
US-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa from Isil militants on Tuesday, a senior commander for the force said, adding that clearing operations were underway to remove land mines left behind and search for the extremist group’s sleeper cells.
Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told The Associated Press that there are no longer clashes in the city, which had served as the extremist group’s headquarters and self-proclaimed capital of their so-called “caliphate” for more than three years.
A formal declaration will be made from the city soon, after the clearing operations end. Raqqa is still full of land mines, Sillo added, but fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces are now in control of the former “capital of terrorism.”
Iraqi troops have captured several key Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled positions near Kirkuk and continue to advance, Reuters reports, citing the Iraqi military. Earlier, troops deployed to secure Kirkuk clashed with Kurds in the disputed area.
The Iraqi armed forces gained control of roads and infrastructure near Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters, including the North Gas Company station, a nearby oil processing plant, and the industrial district south of the city. The military also captured Kirkuk’s K-1 Air Base from Kurdish forces, a military statement says, according to Reuters.
More… Kirkuk: Iraqi forces capture key sites from Kurds
Baghdad has deployed its military and pro-government militias to secure Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled bases and federal installations in Kirkuk, urging them to “avoid confrontations” and “protect all civilians” in the multi-ethnic, oil-rich region.
Early Monday morning, Iraqi government troops supported by the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state-loyal umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias, have started advancing towards Peshmerga (military force of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan) frontlines from Taza, just south of the city of Kirkuk.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, were battling the last “Islamic State” (IS) fighters in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sunday.
On Saturday, the SDF had agreed to a proposal that allowed Syrian IS jihadists to leave the city. IS’ foreign fighters were excluded from the evacuation deal.
“Last night, the final batch of fighters (who agreed to leave) left the city,” said SDF spokesman Mostafa Bali, adding that no foreign fighters had left the city. The SDF later said in a statement that around 275 local fighters and their families had left as part of the deal.
A spokesman for the U.S.-backed forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria says the “final” battle to uproot the extremists from the northern city of Raqqa is under way, as dozens of IS fighters surrender.
Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said on October 14 that the battle could take hours or days.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is an alliance of Arab and Kurdish militias dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.
The loss of Raqqa, once the de facto capital of its self-proclaimed caliphate, would deal a huge blow to the militant group.
Kurdish authorities have sent thousands more troops to the oil region of Kirkuk to confront “threats” from Iraq’s central government, the vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan region said on Friday.
Tens of thousands of Kurdish soldiers were already stationed there and another 6,000 have arrived since Thursday, Kosrat Rasul said, amid mounting tensions between the northern territory and Baghdad.
Iraq’s government has taken a series of measures to isolate the region since Kurds held a Sept 25 referendum on independence, including banning international flights from going there and calling for a halt to its crude oil sales.
A special team in Denmark‘s Immigration Agency could demonstrate through a comprehensive mapping of family patterns as well as traces of social media, mobile data and international cooperation that the many asylum seekers probably originate from Iraq.
Abu Awad, a stalwart fighter for Islamic State, was unsettled. His battered men, sheltering in the rubble of bombed-out buildings, were running low on supplies and they were losing patience – and discipline.
“Abu Osama,” he said on a radio frequency that his pursuers were monitoring two streets away, from the other side of the frontline of the battle for Raqqa. “We don’t have water for ablutions, and we don’t have enough medicine to treat our injured.”
“Cleanse yourself with dirt and I will get some to you in the morning,” a man replied in a tired voice.
Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, has said he is prepared to use military force if the Kurdish region’s planned independence referendum results in violence.
Mr Abadi made the remarks in an interview with the Associated Press, saying he would resort to force if necessary to “protect our population”.
“If they are threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily,” he said.
He repeated his call for the Kurdish authorities to cancel the referendum, saying they were “playing with fire” and risked inviting other countries to violate Iraqi borders and its constitution.
Next month, on September 25, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil will hold a binding referendum on whether or not to secede from Iraq. It will almost certainly pass. More than a decade ago, the Kurds held a non-binding referendum that passed with 99.8 percent of the vote.
No one knows what’s going to happen. Iraq is the kind of place where just about anything can happen and eventually does.
The British Journal of Global Health has found that the idea that sanctions on Iraq killed 500,000 children was a fiction dreamed up by Saddam Hussein’s government to fuel propaganda against the West.