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.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez warned that he will block US arms sales to Iraq if Congress does not provide assurances that the weapons will not fall into the wrong hands. Menendez made the comments as senior State Department and Defense Department officials appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Unless you are going to give us a sense of where the security forces are at, moving forward, this chair is not going to be willing to approve more arms sales so they can be abandoned to go to the hands of those who we are seriously concerned about in terms of our own national security,” he said.
UN envoy Mikolay Mladenov told the 15 member UN Security Council Wednesday that it’s time to take a stand on Iraq and accused the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq of kidnappings, hostage taking and murder.
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.