Satellite imagery released by the United Nations on Monday has confirmed that the Islamic State destroyed one of the most important ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra over the weekend.
The destruction of the 1st-century Temple of Bel appears to be part of a broader campaign by the group against not just Palmyra but a variety of ancient sites — a campaign that appears to be motivated by both ideology and greed. Worse still, the Islamic State is only one part of a wider situation in Syria and Iraq where a number of important historical areas are considered at risk.
The situation is stark. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists 10 world heritage sites in Syria and Iraq. Of those 10, it says nine are currently in danger – and not just because of Islamic State vandalism. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
The Iraqi fortress city of Hatra is believed to date back to the Parthian empire in the 3rd or 2nd century B.C., and it later became the capital of the first Arab Kingdom. The city, known for its huge walls, flourished during the Mesopotamian era and bears the influence of both the Roman and Persian empires. Video released in March by the Islamic State showed the group using sledgehammers and even guns to destroy carvings and statues.
“Praise to God, who enabled us and the soldiers of Islamic State to remove the signs of polytheism,” one militant says in the video. The destruction in Hatra came just a few days after attempts by the Islamic State to bulldoze ruins at the Assyrian city of Nimrud, a site currently on the tentative list to become a world heritage site. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
Ashur, also known as Assur, is a city in modern-day Iraq that dates back to the third millennium, and it later became the first capital of the Assyrian Empire. The city was associated with the god Ashur and became an important religious city.
Ashur was first declared in danger by UNESCO in 2003 due to the planned construction of a dam that would have flooded its ruins. Due to the city’s proximity to Islamic State-controlled territory, there have been fears that it could face destruction or vandalism. In May, there were a number of reports that the city’s ancient arches had been blown up by militants. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, accused in a parliamentary debate Monday of responsibility in the fall of Iraq’s second largest city Mosul to IS militants in June 2014, is blaming the disaster on Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan and Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani.
Maliki, who was stripped of his mostly ceremonial post as one of Iraq’s three vice presidents in a reform plan by his successor Haidar al-Abadi, fled to Iran several days ago.
Addressing supporters in the Iranian capital Tehran, Maliki accused Saudi Arabia of aggravating the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict in Iraq and the region. He also accuses other regional players in the conflict, to the applause of the mostly Shi’ite crowd.
Maliki also blasted adversaries Turkey and Kurdistan for plotting the disintegration of his country. On his Facebook page, he accused the leaders of both of handing the Iraqi city of Mosul to the Islamic State last year. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
The fall of Mosul was the subject of an Iraqi parliament debate Monday, in which a 200-page report with interviews of more than 30 former Iraqi military and political leaders was presented to determine who was responsible for the fall of the city.
Iraqi parliament speaker Selim al-Jabbouri told journalists that pressure was put on the committee investigating the fall of Mosul to remove the names of certain prominent figures, but that all those involved in the setback will be prosecuted in court.
United Arab Emirates-based Middle East analyst Theodore Karasik argues that the debate over the fall of Mosul is part of the political struggle being waged by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to reform Iraq’s political system
“(Grand Ayatollah) Ali Sistani sent out his word that Abadi should start this anti-corruption campaign and clean out those who made mistakes in the past years. Maliki of course is going to be a main target because it was under his reign that Iraq remained a disaster. So, this has created the situation that Maliki is being held responsible particularly with the Mosul incident,” he said.
Karasik says Maliki’s accusations are shared by others who claim Ankara “turned a blind eye to the Islamic State problem at the time,” and that the Kurds did not come to the rescue of the Iraqi government when they could have. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
RAMADI (Iraq), August 16 (Xinhua) – At least 42 people were killed Sunday in a car bombing and battles against the group of the Islamic State (EI) in Anbar province in west of Iraq, do we learned from provincial security source.
A suicide bomber detonated a military truck full of explosives at the Technical Institute of Saqlawiyah area north of the city of Fallujah under control of the IE, killing 15 soldiers and militia allied Hashd Shaabi ( popular mobilization) ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
The fight against Islamic State rebels is at a stalemate and if the US military does not see progress in the coming months it should consider putting support troops on the ground with Iraqi forces, Army General Ray Odierno said on Wednesday.
Odierno, the outgoing Army chief of staff, backed the current strategy against Islamic State, telling his last Pentagon news conference that while US troops could defeat the militants, they could not solve the broader political and economic problems besetting Iraq and Syria. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
A group of Iraq war veterans is launching a million-dollar effort to oppose President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, trying to counter the president’s argument that those who are against the deal are in favor of war.
Obama has said recently that there are only two camps: those who support the deal versus those who would prefer a bloody and costly war like the conflict in Iraq. The new ad campaign complicates that, asserting that the deal itself will lead to more war. And the voices putting forth that case do not prefer war; they are soldiers who have had enough of it.
The group, Veterans Against the Deal, was founded last month as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, and it does not disclose its donors. Its national campaign starts today, including television ads in states whose members of Congress are undecided on the Iran deal. Lawmakers will vote on it in September.
The first of the group’s videos features retired staff sergeant Robert Bartlett, who was badly injured by an Iranian bomb while serving in Iraq in 2005. “Every politician who is involved in this will be held accountable, they will have blood on their hands,” he says in the ad. “A vote for this deal means more money for Iranian terrorism. What do you think they are going to do when they get more money?” ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Kurdish region has begun to sell oil independently of the central government, a move that is exacerbating divisions in the country as it struggles to turn back Islamic State militants.
The Kurdish region last month stopped transferring oil to the state as it had promised to do under a landmark deal in 2014. Kurdish officials argued that payments from Baghdad had not been sufficient. Instead, the region exported more than 600,000 barrels a day itself, Kurdish and Iraqi officials said, a step that Baghdad considers illegal. ∞∞∞∞∞ SEE MORE ∞∞∞∞∞