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Two Yazidi mass graves found near Sinjar, Iraq

Two mass graves containing the bodies of Iraqi Yazidis have been discovered near Sinjar in northern Iraq. Almost 30 such graves have been uncovered since anti-"Islamic State" forces retook Sinjar last year. Two graves that each contained the bodies of nine Iraqi Yazidis suspected to have been killed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant group have been discovered in northern Iraq, located about 150 meters (492 feet) apart. The graves were found in Um al-Shababik village, according to Sinjar Mayor Mahma Khalil. Kurdish peshmerga forces found the graves while scouting the area. They contained bones and identity cards that appeared to have been covered over with sandy earth by a bulldozer. With this discovery, 29 such graves have been found since anti-IS forces took Sinjar, the Yazidi's main urban hub in Iraq, back from IS. The number of graves discovered is expected to rise as IS militants are driven further back. At least 1,600 bodies discovered to date IS militants killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidis in 2014 as they gained control of the area. Khalil said at least 1,600 bodies are in the graves that have been discovered so far, and investigators with the United Nations have said actions by IS constitute genocide. According to the Office of Kidnapped Affairs in Duhok, approximately 3,500 Yazidis still live in areas controlled by IS, many of them women and children. The Yazidis are a religious sect that combine aspects of several ancient Middle Eastern religions, including Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. They are considered devil-worshippers by the Sunni Islamist insurgents, including IS.

Two mass graves containing the bodies of Iraqi Yazidis have been discovered near Sinjar in northern Iraq. Almost 30 such graves have been uncovered since anti-“Islamic State” forces retook Sinjar last year. Two graves that each contained the bodies of nine Iraqi Yazidis suspected to have been killed by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) militant group have been discovered in ... Read More »

US issues travel advisory for Americans travelling in Europe

US authorities have warned Americans that there may be terrorist attacks in Europe in the run-up to the holiday season. The advisory comes as France conducted another series of terror-related arrests. The US State Department said it had received credible information indicating that militants belonging to the so-called "Islamic State" movement (IS) as well as al Qaeda and other groupings were planning attack in Europe. "US citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets. This Travel Alert expires on February 20, 2017," its travel alert said, adding that travelers should also apply caution on public transport, places of worship, restaurants and hotels. "While extremists have carried out attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and Turkey in the past year, the Department remains concerned about the potential for attacks throughout Europe." The travel alert also recognized that European authorities were continuing with raid to disrupt terror plots, stressing that the Department of State and various European government worked closely together, routinely sharing information in order to combat terrorism. France plot foiled The statement by the State Department came as police in France broke up a terror ring plotting an attack, arresting seven suspects in the cities of Strasbourg and Marseille over the weekend. But the AFP news agency reported that the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, said the interior ministry had told him the targets were "in the Paris region" and not in his city, which will be opening a major Christmas market later this week. The DPA news agency reported that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later told Ries that the Christmas market had not been the target of the intended attack. The French interior minister said 418 people had been arrested for suspected links to terror networks since the start of the year. France has suffered three major attacks since January 2015 when gunmen targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, followed by last November's coordinated attacks across Paris, killing 130, and a self-radicalized extremist driving a truck through crowds in the southern city of Nice in July, killing 86.

US authorities have warned Americans that there may be terrorist attacks in Europe in the run-up to the holiday season. The advisory comes as France conducted another series of terror-related arrests. The US State Department said it had received credible information indicating that militants belonging to the so-called “Islamic State” movement (IS) as well as al Qaeda and other groupings ... Read More »

Heavy fighting in and around Mosul as Iraqi troops expand their foothold

Iraqi allied forces, numbering 100,000 and backed by US air power, are pressing into the IS stronghold. The militants are vastly outnumbered but are using bombers, snipers and ambushes to fight back. A suicide car bomber sent by the Islamic State (IS) group struck Iraqi special-forces Saturday in Mosul, sparking heavy fighting in the strategic city in the northern Iraq. The early morning attack occurred in the Qadisiya neighborhood, and triggered a barrage of gunfire, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, Iraqi officers said. They added that fighting was also taking place in the adjoining Arbajiya neighborhood. But backed by US and Iraqi air power Iraqi special-forces appear to have taken control of the two districts after killing 30 militants, three rocket launchers and destroying nine car bombs sent on suicide missions by the IS. For more than a week Iraq's infantry and armored division troops have been trying to expand their small foothold in the city that IS has controlled since the middle of 2014 when their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a Muslim caliphate across parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. An alliance of 100,000 Iraqi fighters supported by thousands of Western personnel on the ground is trying to drive IS out of the biggest city under its control in either country. They're up against just a few thousand militants but they're facing stiff resistance in the form of suicide car bombers, assault fighters, snipers and rocket fire. Tunnels and ambushes IS fighters have, at times, melted into the city's population of 1.5 million and used a network of tunnels around the city to launch surprise raids and ambushes. A statement issued by the military said the Counter Terrorism Service took control of the districts of al-Qadisiya al-Thania on Friday, as well as the adjacent al-Arbajiya. To the south, troops from the First Infantry and Ninth Armored divisions attacked militants in the Salam neighborhood. Military forces are closing in on Mosul from the north and south, aiming to open new fronts inside the city in order to put added pressure on the jihadists. The Iraqi forces are made up of Iraqi army troops, special-forces and federal police units. Outside the city, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are holding territory to the northeast while predominantly Shi'ite paramilitary forces are positioned to the west. They're being supported by US-led air power, including jets and Apache helicopters, as well as Western military advisers who have accompanied Iraqi forces to the edge of Mosul. The International Organization for Migration said 49,000 people have been displaced during the latest round of fighting by the conflict, which is the most complex military operation in more than a decade of conflict - since the 2003 US invasion toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi allied forces, numbering 100,000 and backed by US air power, are pressing into the IS stronghold. The militants are vastly outnumbered but are using bombers, snipers and ambushes to fight back. A suicide car bomber sent by the Islamic State (IS) group struck Iraqi special-forces Saturday in Mosul, sparking heavy fighting in the strategic city in the northern Iraq. ... Read More »

Turkish opposition lawmaker injured in gun attack in southeast Turkey

An influential Turkish opposition lawmaker has been injured after unidentified assailants attacked and shot him. The incident took place in a restaurant in the city of Aydin in southwest Turkey. Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported that the deputy leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, was in a stable condition following the attack on his life. Tezcan was shot in the leg with a handgun, Anadolu said. The injuries were reported to be not life-threatening. According to the Haberturk news channel, the attack happened in the city of Aydin, Tezcan's constituency. The motives of the assailant or assailants were not clear. There were conflicting reports over a single gunman operating as opposed to more than one. Police were reportedly pursuing the perpetrator. Tensions in Turkey's southeast have been on the rise since the failed coup attempt in July 2016 and after a series of deadly attacks on civilians this year, which have been blamed both on the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) as well as on the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) group. Tezcan had risen to prominence after being injured during a fistfight in the Turkish parliament in 2014. Rising tensions Earlier in the year, the motorcade of CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu had come under attack, as he was shot at by unidentified men with automatic weapons. The incident has been claimed by the PKK. Kilicdaroglu escaped the assault unharmed but three Turkish soldiers were injured in an ensuing exchange of fire. The worsening security situation in Turkey, coupled with the country's ongoing interference with operations against IS in both Iraq and in Syria, has led to the US State Department to order the families of US consulate employees to leave Istanbul. In a speech in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he would ask parliament to consider reintroducing the death penalty. "Our government will take this [proposal on capital punishment] to parliament," Erdogan said. "I am convinced that parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it." Reports about the torture of detainees who are alleged to have participated in the planning of the July 15 coup attempt have also put the country's worsening human right record in the spotlight.

An influential Turkish opposition lawmaker has been injured after unidentified assailants attacked and shot him. The incident took place in a restaurant in the city of Aydin in southwest Turkey. Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that the deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, was in a stable condition following the attack on his life. Tezcan was ... Read More »

NATO, EU trying to improve Libya’s legacy

Five years after a NATO-led intervention toppled then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the military alliance and the European Union are ramping up efforts to rebuild and reform the country. Attending a NATO defense ministers' meeting Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced as a "very important step" the launch of the bloc's training program for 78 heavily-vetted members of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy. It's part of the EU's broader naval mission Operation Sophia, aimed at disrupting the migrant influx in the Mediterranean Sea. Mogherini thanked NATO ministers for their Wednesday night approval of reconnaissance and logistical assistance for the operation. Human rights group calls for halt Some human rights groups, however, say the NATO and EU initiatives will compound, not correct, the problems in the tumultuous north African state. Ruben Neugebauer thinks such self-congratulation is completely unwarranted. His organization Sea Watch has asked the EU to call off the plans to train officers and upgrade equipment for Libyan forces. That's because of incidents, like last Friday, when a rescue ship from the privately-funded group answered a distress call in the Mediterranean just in time, Neugebauer explained, to see what appeared to be a Libyan Coast Guard vessel with armed men aboard purposely sink a dinghy struggling to stay afloat with roughly 125 people aboard. The Berlin-based organization is a privately-funded initiative that describes itself as "dedicated to putting an end to the dying on the Mediterranean Sea." Neugebauer said the Sea Watch crew did everything it could to pick up the desperate passengers as the European-made Libyan vessel shut off its lights and raced away. At least four people didn't make it. Mogherini's European External Action Service announcement describes the training program's objective as enhancing Libyans' "capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking in Libya and to perform search and rescue activities which will save lives and improve security in the Libyan territorial waters." Neugebauer said the EU is much more interested in the first half of that "objective" than the latter. "It's not at all caring about the humanitarian situation, but rather shutting down the border by all means necessary," he said, "and this is simply unacceptable for us." Neugebauer said if the initiative launched Thursday proceeds -- as it obviously is, with 78 Libyan trainees already aboard two EU ships -- the bloc should "dump [its] Nobel Peace Prize right in the Mediterranean Sea." Trying times in Tripoli But EU and NATO officials insist they're not glossing over known problems in Libya's governance and institutions. Asked by DW Thursday whether there's deep enough vetting of Libyan partners,NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the "situation in Libya is not easy" with different militias fighting each other, while the international community tries to shore up the UN-recognized government of national unity in Tripoli. "NATO's main focus is how we can build security institutions," he explained, in order to address these issues. "To be able to train the right people and to be able to build the right kind of forces," he said, "we need the security institutions which shall organize and lead them." EU officials use a similar logic to explain why they're choosing to forge ahead now with Libyan trainees, after a long process of narrowing down candidates. Officials underscore that a substantial part of the program involves becoming better versed in human rights and international law, trying to bring up the level to international standards. Mogherini mentioned recently in New York that many of these migrants and refugees coming through Libya have already been on the run for a long time. They "have been through a form of modern slavery," she acknowledged, and "often live in inhumane conditions in Libya" as well. "We are working to improve their situation," Mogherini pledged. Meanwhile, the UN's latest figures show that the crossing between Libya and Italy is becoming ever more deadly, with those who attempt it more likely to drown this year than in 2015.

Five years after a NATO-led intervention toppled then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the military alliance and the European Union are ramping up efforts to rebuild and reform the country. Attending a NATO defense ministers’ meeting Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced as a “very important step” the launch of the bloc’s training program for 78 heavily-vetted members of the ... Read More »

Erdogan: Wedding suicide bomber was child ‘between 12 and 14’

Turkish President Erdogan has said the suicide bomber who attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey was a child as young as 12 years old. More than 50 people were killed in the blast - Turkey's deadliest this year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the explosion in the city of Gaziantep was carried out by a bomber "aged between 12 and 14." Speaking live on national television, he also blamed the carnage on the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group, which controls large swathes of territory in neighboring Syria. "Initial evidence suggests it was a Daesh attack," Erdogan said, using an alternative acronym for IS. It was clear the group "had such an organization in Gaziantep or was attempting to make room for itself in recent times," he added. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast that went off among guests dancing at an outdoor Kurdish wedding party late Saturday. At least 51 people were killed and 94 wounded, Erdogan said. Around 70 victims were still in hospital, with 17 in a critical condition. 'Unprecedented cruelty and barbarism' In Gaziantep, the chief prosecutor's office said they had found a destroyed suicide vest at the blast site. Turkish authorities sealed off the area and issued a media blackout on coverage of the attack until their investigation is completed. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim condemned the bombing, which he said turned "a wedding party into a place of mourning." Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek visited the wounded in hospital on Sunday, describing the attack as a "massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarism." "We ... are united against all terror organizations. They will not yield." Multiple opposition parties also denounced the attack, along with many foreign governments including the US, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Sweden, Greece, France, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan. Reaction around the world German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a condolence note that Germany stands on Turkey's side in the "fight against terrorism." "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families ... I wish the wounded a speedy recovery," she wrote. In the Vatican, Pope Francis led hundreds of people in prayer for the victims, saying, "sad news has reached me about the bloody attack ... Let us pray for the victims, for the dead and the injured, and we ask for the gift of peace for all." US ambassador to Turkey John Bass condemned the "barbaric attack on innocent civilians," adding that Washington would "continue to work closely together to defeat the common threat of terrorism." Wave of deadly bombings Turkey has been hit by a string of attacks in the past year. The country faces security threats from IS in Syria, as well as from local Kurdish fighters linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In June, suspected IS militants attacked Istanbul's main airport, killing 44 people. The group was also accused of carrying suicide bombings at a rally of labor activists in the capital, Ankara, last October that left more than 100 people dead. Around a dozen people were killed this week in a string of bombings blamed on the PKK, and targeting police and soldiers. Clashes between the militants and government forces have flared after a fragile two-and-a-half year peace process collapsed last year. Saturday's bombing in Gaziantep comes as the country is still reeling from a failed coup attempt last month. Turkey blamed the putsch on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers. Gulen has denied any involvement. Earlier Sunday, Erdogan said there was "absolutely no difference" between IS, Kurdish rebels and Gulen's movement, labeling them all terrorist groups. He said attacks like the one on Saturday aimed to sow division between Turkey's different groups and to "spread incitement along ethnic and religious lines." "Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us - you will not succeed!" he said.

Turkish President Erdogan has said the suicide bomber who attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey was a child as young as 12 years old. More than 50 people were killed in the blast – Turkey’s deadliest this year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the explosion in the city of Gaziantep was carried out by a bomber ... Read More »

Obama reports progress against ‘Islamic State,’ criticizes Russian inaction in Syria

US President Barack Obama has reported on the progress against the so-called "Islamic State" militant group, but warned of further small-scale attacks. He also criticized Russia for not taking "necessary steps" in Syria. At a press conference on Thursday at the Pentagon, US President Barack Obama said that two years of the US-led air and ground campaign against the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group in Syria and Iraq had shown it could be beaten in conventional military combat. "I am pleased with the progress that we've made on the ground in Iraq and Syria," Obama said, but added: "We're far from freeing Mosul and Raqqa." Obama also cautioned on working with Russia. "The US remains prepared to work with Russia to try to reduce the violence and strengthen our efforts against ISIL and al Qaeda in Syria, but so far Russia has failed to take the necessary steps," Obama said, using an alternative acronym for the militant group. He added that he was not confident Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin, could be trusted. Small-scale attacks Speaking to the press on his birthday, Obama said IS still had the ability to carry out damaging small-scale attacks. "What ISIL has figured out is that if they can convince a handful of people or even one person to carry out an attack on a subway, or at a parade or some other public venue, and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it still creates the kinds of fear and concern that elevates their profile," he said. The president said the US had to improve its operations in disrupting terror networks and intercepting online messages to troubled individuals which were encouraging them to act. "Those networks are more active in Europe than they are here, but we don't know what we don't know, and so it's conceivable that there are some networks here that could be activated," he said, while warning against over-reacting to such attacks. "They've seen the degree of attention they can get with smaller-scale attacks using small arms or assault rifles," Obama said. "The possibility of either a lone actor or a small cell carrying out an attack that kills people is real." Over the last month, IS has claimed responsibility for several attacks against civilians in France and Germany. "How we react to this is as important as the efforts we take to destroy ISIL, prevent these networks from penetrating," Obama said. "When societies get scared they can react in ways that undermine the fabric of our society." Birthday celebrations Obama celebrated his 55th birthday on Thursday at a restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront. Obama and his family leave on Saturday for their summer vacation, spending a fortnight at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. His vice president, Joe Biden, expressed his birthday wishes via Twitter.

US President Barack Obama has reported on the progress against the so-called “Islamic State” militant group, but warned of further small-scale attacks. He also criticized Russia for not taking “necessary steps” in Syria. At a press conference on Thursday at the Pentagon, US President Barack Obama said that two years of the US-led air and ground campaign against the “Islamic ... Read More »

Priest murdered in France, IS claims link

Two hostage-takers said to be loyal to Islamic State have murdered a priest by slitting his throat inside a church in France before they were shot dead by police. Prosecutors say one suspect had an electronic tag. French President Francois Hollande visited the scene of Tuesday's murder during morning mass at Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, describing it as a "vile terrorist attack" - that adds to a string of deadly jihadist assaults in France since last year. A nun, identified as Sister Danielle, told RMC radio and BFM television that the assailants forced 85-year-old parish priest Father Jacques Hamel to his knees before slitting his throat. "They did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It's a horror," she said. French media said one of the two attackers equipped with knives was a local man and had spent a year in French jail after trying to travel to Syria via Turkey. French anti-terror prosecutor Francois Molins identified him as 19-year-old Adel Kermiche who had been fitted with electronic surveillance since March. IS claims linkage Responsibility for the attack - the first jihadist attack on a church on French soil by the IS - was claimed via Amaq, the mouthpiece agency of Islamic State, which in recent years has become notorious for its brutality in Syria and Iraq. A special French police unit confronted the attackers as they left the church, shooting them dead, and freeing three hostages, physically unharmed. Inter-faith meeting on Wednesday Hollande said he was calling a meeting on Wednesday of representatives of all religions in France. "We must lead this war with all our means," he added. Mohammed Karabila, regional Muslim leader, denounced the Rouvray attack as an "odious act" and said that one of the attackers had been known to police. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis condemned "every form of hatred" and expressed his "pain and horror for this absurd violence." From Krakow in Poland, Rouen's Catholic archbishop, Dominique Lebrun, said he urged all, including non-believers, to unite in an outcry. "The Catholic Church has no other arms besides prayer and fraternity between men," he said. Rouvray's mayor, Hubert Wulfranc, tearfully denounced what he called "barbarism" and gave a deeply emotional plea: "Let us together be the last to cry." France on high alert France had remained on high alert under an extended state of emergency since a truck driven by a Tunisian resident killed 84 revellers along the promenade of France's southern Mediterranean city of Nice on 14 July, Bastille Day. Although IS claimed responsibility for that attack police have not confirmed linkage. Previous jihadist assaults last year around Paris took 147 lives. Catholics in constitutionally secular France make up the majority of France's population. Islam ranks as France's second-largest religion, with five million followers. 'Be merciless,' says Sarkozy Presumptive French conservative presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy reacted to Tuesday's killing by accusing Hollande's Socialist government of being soft on terrorism. "We must be merciless," Sarkozy told reporters. "There is no more time to be wasted." His center-right opposition wants all Islamist suspects identified in confidential security assessments placed under administrative detention. Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is also expected to run for the presidency in 10 months' time, said both major parties had failed on security. Hollande insisted the state must stick to the rule of law as a hallmark of democracy.

Two hostage-takers said to be loyal to Islamic State have murdered a priest by slitting his throat inside a church in France before they were shot dead by police. Prosecutors say one suspect had an electronic tag. French President Francois Hollande visited the scene of Tuesday’s murder during morning mass at Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, describing it as a ... Read More »

Four terror suspects arrested in South Africa

US and British intelligence agencies alerted South African officials last month that a domestic terror attack could be imminent. Four suspects are under arrest and due to appear in court Monday. Four suspects in South Africa are facing terror-related charges after being detained by police. The three men and one woman were arrested over the weekend as they were about to fly to Syria. "We stopped them from flying to Syria and the airline concerned was also informed and they were refused access," said Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, widely known as "the Hawks." National Hawks chief Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza called the arrests a "very big step forward in the fight against terrorism". The suspects, in their early 20s, were first identified in 2015 when they attempted to travel to Syria, according to Mulaudzi. "Investigations showed they intended to join terrorist group ISIS," Hangwani told the local News24. Monday in court The four are due to appear in court on Monday, two of them in Johannesburg on terror-related charges. Two others, who are scheduled to appear at the Kagiso Magistrates Court west of Johannesburg, will face firearms and explosives related charges, according to Hangwani. It is unclear if they were planning to help the Islamic State in Syria or launch an attack in South Africa. Foreign nationals have flocked to Syria to fight for or against Islamic State, an ultra-hardline Sunni group that has also carried out deadly attacks worldwide. There are no known militant groups operating in South Africa, but last month US and British intelligence agencies warned of a potential terror attack against foreigners in South Africa. The country's Muslim minority makes up just 1.5 percent of the country's population. Analysts fear economic hardships could be a catalyst for radicalizing the country's small Muslim population.

US and British intelligence agencies alerted South African officials last month that a domestic terror attack could be imminent. Four suspects are under arrest and due to appear in court Monday. Four suspects in South Africa are facing terror-related charges after being detained by police. The three men and one woman were arrested over the weekend as they were about ... Read More »

Scores killed in ‘Islamic State’ bombing in Baghdad

Baghdad was rocked by two explosions ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the deadliest attack to hit Iraq's capital this year. "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for one of the attacks. The first explosion took place early on Sunday in the Karada shopping area, killing at least 115 people and wounding more than 180, Iraqi officials said. A police officer said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden pickup truck near a restaurant in the area. That blast claimed scores of lives, including 15 children, 10 women and six policemen. Previous estimates put the Karada death toll at 80, but that number slowly rose throughout Sunday. The attack came as people gathered to shop ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted a local gathering of Shiites, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced three days of mourning for the victims. Shortly after the attack, an improvised explosive device went off in the northeastern Baghdad district of al-Shaab, killing at least five people and wounding 16. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second bombing. Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. The blast set several buildings in the area ablaze while firefighters struggled for 12 hours to extinguish the flames. The US embassy in Baghdad expressed their condolences for the victims' families and friends in a statement posted on Facebook. "The United States remains committed to supporting Iraq in its efforts to defeat Daesh and liberate all of Iraq," the statement read, using the Arabic acronym for IS. The battle against IS Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the scene of the attack and vowed revenge, according to state broadcaster al-Iraqiya. He accused "terrorist gangs" of the bombing after "they were crushed on the battlefield." Al-Abadi quickly left Karada, according to the independent news website Alsumaria News due to the backlash from the crowd gathered there. Bystanders blamed the supposed inefficiency of security forces for the bombing. A video posted online showed an angry crowd throwing stones and jerry cans at the prime minister's convoy. One person in the video repeatedly called al-Abadi "a thief." The Baghdad attacks come a week after Iraqi forces declared the neighboring city of Fallujah "fully liberated" from IS. Despite the government's recent victories against IS, the group has repeatedly managed to launch attacks far from the front lines. IS also continues to control Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, where an offensive against the movement is expected to be mounted later in the year. The group is estimated to control 14 percent of Iraqi territory, according to the office of the prime minister.

Baghdad was rocked by two explosions ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the deadliest attack to hit Iraq’s capital this year. “Islamic State” has claimed responsibility for one of the attacks. The first explosion took place early on Sunday in the Karada shopping area, killing at least 115 people and wounding more than 180, ... Read More »

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