23.10.2015. - Baiji, Iraq - 16 months of fighting in Baiji is finally coming to an end. Most of Baiji, an industrial city about 140 miles north of Baghdad, fell to Da’ish militants within 48 hours of Mosul’s collapse in June 2014. The militants began to besiege and probe the defences of the oil refinery within a week, leading to one of the longest running battles in Iraq’s war on Da’ish, to date.
A series of counter-offensives and military operations over the last year allowed Iraqi forces to claw back and maintain footholds in several neighbourhoods in the city, mainly in a cluster of villages to the city’s south. As for the vast oil refinery to the city’s north, the largest in the country, Iraqi forces never left. Men were lost, morale reached rock bottom, basic supplies were scarce but members of Iraq’s elite special forces (later joined by Hashd al-Sha’abi/PMU units) held onto several sectors of the refinery’s sprawling infrastructure.
The situation in both the city and refinery was fluid, with control of areas sometimes changing hands more than twice in a week........ see more
Iraqi forces and volunteer fighters have managed to liberate a major northern town from the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, military officials say.
The spokesman of Iraq’s Joint Military Command Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said on Tuesday that army troops and paramilitary fighters, known as Popular Mobilization Forces, retook the town of Baiji in Salahuddin Province earlier in the day. Footage aired by the state-run TV showed Iraqi troops waving flags from rooftops in Baiji as thick black smoke billowed into the air.
Iraqi officials announced the liberation of the oil installations in Baiji last week.
Baiji is the second most significant area recaptured in Salahuddin over the past months as pro-government forces retook the provincial capital of Tikrit in late March after weeks of clashes with the militants. The liberation of Baiji could be a prelude to Iraq’s highly-anticipated offensive into Mosul, which has served as the de-facto capital of Daesh in Iraq.
The allied Iraqi forces are also fighting against Daesh in the western province of Anbar, where reports have indicated significant advances by the army around positions of the terrorist group in the provincial capital of Ramadi.--- via PressTV
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Iraqi army and Shiite militia have completely liberated central areas of the Iraqi northern city of Baiji from the control of Islamic State (ISIL) jihadist group militants, militia representative Karim Nouri told Sputnik on Tuesday.
Earlier in October, the Iraqi military reported major successes in the area, and reportedly retook the country's largest oil refinery in Baiji.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) cleared the area and defused all explosive devices planted by the extremists, Nouri said.
In this image posted on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, by the Rased News Network, a Facebook page affiliated with Islamic State, shows Islamic State militants preparing to fire a mortar to shell towards Syrian government forces positions at Tal Arn in Aleppo province, Syria
The ISF are also continuing a large-scale military operation against IS in a number of areas of the country, including the western Anbar province. The Iraqi army is currently in the second phase of a military operation to liberate the central province of Salah ad Din.
Vast territories in Iraq and neighboring Syria have been occupied by the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group, which has proclaimed a caliphate on the land under its control.
ISIL is an extremist Sunni militant group that denounces Shia Muslims, who make up almost 70 percent of the Iraqi population, as heretics. ISIL has carried out numerous terror attacks and committed many human rights atrocities in the country. ........... via
The success can be attributed mostly to Iraqi militia supported by Iran. The 4+1 intelligence and operations room in Baghdad, where Iraq, Iran, Russia, Syria and Hizbullah as well as the Hashd coordinate their efforts, advised throughout the operation. The U.S. was not involved as it does not want to work with the Hashd militia and Iran.
When looking through the daily strike reports of the U.S. lead operation Inherent Resolve one finds hardly any air strikes against IS forces around Baiji. The few that took place hit some IS "machine gun position" or "tactical fighting position". Hardly the effort that was needed to free the city. Indeed it took the Iraqi air force to do the real work:
Zaid Benjamin @zaidbenjamin
Inherent Resolve Spx Steve Warren: Dealing with small pockets in #Beiji refinery. Iraqi air-force mounted 40 airstrikes & the coalition 4.
Iraqi militia did the groundwork and the Iraqi air force covered the attack. The operation proceed under advice from Russia and Iran. The U.S. was not involved. It is no wonder then that "western" media are mostly silent about it.
There is nothing about the Iraqi victory in the Washington Post and the New York Times gives it just one sentence in a piece about the Joint Chiefs chairman. This after wall-to-wall coverage when the Islamic State first captured the refinery. Even the small mention in the NYT manages to deceive its readers about the leading party of the operation:
The American-led coalition is putting pressure on the militants on several fronts. Backed by American air power, Iraqi forces are on the outskirts of Ramadi, which was taken by the militants in May. Iraqi forces and Shiite militias captured the Baiji oil refinery, north of Baghdad, on Friday and are trying to expand the territory under their control there. On Tuesday, the Iraqi military said it had secured the nearby town of Baiji after days of fighting.
The casual reader of that paragraph will assume that the "American-led coalition" and "American air power" was responsible for the liberation of Baiji. But besides four minor airstrike in as many days that "American-led coalition" was not involved at all. The Iraqi militia supported by Russia and Iran are clearly steeling the Pentagon's show.
The U.S. fears the replacement of its sham campaign against the Islamic State by a real one run by Russia and Iran. The Joint Chiefs chairman Dunford even threatened the Iraqi premier with love deprivation:
If Russia did begin flying missions over Iraq, it would preclude the United States from flying, Dunford told the Iraqi leaders. They understood the situation, he said, and Abadi told him that Iraq has not asked the Russians to fly missions over Iraq and Russia has not offered to launch strikes inside Iraq.
Officially Abadi has not asked. But Iraqi requests were made to Moscow and answered positively. Iraq will wait a few month and then compare the Russian success in Syria with the U.S. success in Iraq. Should the campaign in Syria be more successful than the U.S. led one in Iraq it surely would consider switching its partners.
In Syria meanwhile the "moderate rebels" open more joined operations rooms with Ahrar al-Shams and Jabhat al Nusra. There is new talk about a unification of the "moderate rebels" of Ahrar al-Shams and the "moderate rebels" of Al Qaeda:
Zaid Benjamin @zaidbenjamin
Ahrar ash-Sham forge alliance with Jabhat al-Nusra one day after a CNN interview with #Qatar's FM saying that Ahrar has no links to al-Qaeda
Russian intelligence picked up talks between the the Islamic State and Nusra/al-Qaeda commanders about a united effort against the Syrian government.
The reality that all these groups submit to the same ideology and aims will soon become even more evident. That will make it more difficult for the U.S. and Turkey to continue with their sham campaign against the Islamic State while supporting the "moderates" that are joined with that professed enemy.
Meanwhile Russia continues its political efforts to end the fighting in Syria. The Syrian president Bashar Assad visited Moscow for talks with the Russian president Putin. He also had an intimate dinner with the highest figures of the Russian government - Putin, Medvedev, Lavrov and Shoygu attended. After the visit the Russian president had phonecalls with the Turkish president Erdogan and the Saudi King Salman today. The foreign ministers of Russia, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Turkey will meet Friday in Vienna. There is either a deal in the making ... or the war on Syria will escalate further.
For over a year Kurdish forces have united in defence against bloody IS attacks. So how have Islamic State still managed to recruit hundreds of young Kurds to fight for the Caliphate against their own families?
"There are Kurdish families in Halabja whose sons are in IS and their hearts are broken, but I'll never go to their funerals", says the grieving mother of Kaihan Borhan, a Kurd who died fighting with the Peshmarga against IS. Her family is distraught that the people responsible for his death could well be Kurdish nationals. "I have a friend whose brother died fighting for ISIS", says Kaihan's brother. "I never grieved for him and my friend cannot bear to look me in the eye." In this report we see the path to extremism that many Kurds have taken. Dissatisfaction at the Kurdish Intelligence service, Asayish's persecution of Muslims and domestic grievances are being skilfully exploited by IS propaganda, led by Khattab Al-Kurdi and his Saladin Brigade. "With God's permission we will sow the seeds of the Caliphate throughout our land", says the Kurdish Khattab, who has been one of the most persuasive forces in luring Kurds towards the Caliphate. Even with Khattab's reported death in April 2015, the threat of more Kurds joining IS seems unlikely to diminish, with a new Kurdish Imam carrying the rhetoric forward.