Radical Sunni militants of Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) are advancing and capturing cities in the north of Iraq. The jihadists have declared the capture of the capital Baghdad as their top priority objective.
More than 5,000 Iraqis have died in the violence in the country so far this year, a large proportion of them women and children suffering gruesome deaths at the hands of ISIS extremists and over-zealous security forces, says a detailed new UN report.
Fierce fighting was reported between the Iraqi military and IS militants in Duluiyah, located some 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. The IS jihadists seized the mayor's office, police station, local council, and courthouse, and blew up a bridge connecting the town with the nearby city of Balad. The Iraqi army launched a counter operation in an attempt to push back the militants.
In another event, at least seven people were killed in Baghdad in two car bomb explosions. The first took place in the Allawi neighborhood – a predominantly Shiite district – killing four civilians and wounding 12 others, according to police. The second blast occurred in the southeastern Bayaa area, killing at least three people and wounding eight, police said.
A suicide car bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk has left at least 30 people dead, a security source has told the BBC.
Three shells hit Saudi Arabia’s city of Arar located in the north-east of the country along the border with Iraq, AFP quoted Saudi border guards spokesman as saying. "Three shells struck near a residential complex in the northern border area, without causing casualties," the spokesman stated, adding that an investigation is underway.
Iraq’s newly elected parliament will postpone its next session until August 12, amid political deadlock in choosing a new prime minister. The office of acting parliamentary speaker, Mehdi al-Hafidh, confirmed the decision to Reuters but did not give further details.
At least seven people including four policemen were killed in northern Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives at a checkpoint, police and medical sources said.
The sources said that 17 people were wounded at the checkpoint in the mainly Shi'ite Kadhmiya district.
The prime minister's military spokesman Qassim Atta was not immediately available for comment.
Security across Iraq remains very volatile as the government battles Sunni Islamist insurgents who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country over the past few weeks. (Reuters)
Some 30,000 people from the eastern town of Shuheil, the former stronghold of Al-Nusra Front, have been “forced out” of their homes by the ISIS, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Another 30,000 residents have been prohibited from returning to their homes in the towns of Khosham and Tabia Jazeera, in eastern Deir Ezzor province, which the ISIS captured in June, the UK-based NGO estimated.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition should withdraw its support for his bid for a third term and pick another candidate, Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr urged, amid parliamentary deadlock over the formation of a new government.
"It is necessary to demonstrate the national and paternal spirit by aiming for a higher, wider goal from individuals and blocs and by that I mean changing the candidates," said Sadr. "I remain convinced that the brothers in the State of Law coalition must present the candidate for prime minister ... because it is the biggest bloc within the National Alliance." (Reuters)
Video of ISIS leader Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi in the northern city of Mosul was falsified, Iraq’s Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters
"We have analyzed the footage ... and found it is a farce," he said adding that the man in the footage was "indisputably" not Baghdadi. Maan said that Baghdadi was wounded in an air strike and is now in Syria for medical treatment.
The 21-minute video was released to at least two militant websites on Saturday, allegedly showing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State group, at the Great Mosque in the northern city of Mosul. Baghdadi, in his early 40s has a $10 million bounty on his head.