As in recent days, there is a lot of news to cover. And, a lot of casualties. At least 270 civilians, security forces and militants were killed and another 89 were wounded in recent violence. Most of it is highly plausible. The government also reported killing 270 militants in just one air strike in Falluja. That figure is probably a very rough estimate.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared on television alongside ethnic minority leaders in a call for national unity. Maliki’s allies, however, are accusing the Kurds and Sunnis of collusion in displacing government troops in the north and called for a boycott of the Sunni political bloc, Mutahidoon. The government earlier accused Saudi Arabia of promoting genocide by supporting Sunni militants.
The premier has also suspended all talks of forming a new government and may still be trying to further consolidate his power. Behind the scenes, he also fired several senior army commanders as he tried to shift blame for the advancement of ISIS/DAASH troops across Iraq away from himself. At least one is headed for military court.
U.S. President Barack Obama is considering air strikes.
The Iraqi government banned civilians from carrying weapons.
Although much of the oil-producing region is in the south, foreign oil companies are evacuating staff or working on "contingency plans". The Kurdish Autonomous Region is trying to use the chaos to increase its oil sales. The government says it is still in control of an oil refinery in Baiji, but it has been shut down anyway.
The United Nations is concerned that the fighting will evolve into regional warfare. The U.N. is also worried about the estimated 800,000 refugees wandering within Iraq. Refugees from the Syrian conflict are already taxing resources in neighboring countries.
In Iran, over 5,000 potential volunteers have pledged themselves online to defend Iraq’s holy sites.
Turkey has evacuated its Basra consulate.
The Vatican announced that militants had, so far, not committed any violent acts.
Pro-government Shi’ite militiamen accompanied by national police gunned down 52 Sunni prisoners about the time Sunni militants tried to storm the jail near Baquba. The Iraqi government claimed they died during shelling; however, local authorities said they were ordered by the national police to leave the jail. Later, the prisoners were found shot to death. One detainee survived and nine militants were killed. Two policemen were also killed and six more were wounded.
The fall of Baquba to militants would be a terrible tactical loss to the Iraqi government. At only 40 miles away, Baquba’s fighting is the closest, so far, to Baghdad and would be a necessary precursor to invading the capital.
The bodies of 18 policemen were found dumped near Samarra.
In Baghdad, four young Sunnis were found dead around the Binouk neighborhood. The bodies of a Sunni cleric and two aides were found in the morgue after uniformed men had kidnapped them. A bomb in central Baghdad killed three people and wounded nine more. Four other bombings left three dead and 5 wounded. Gunmen killed a civilian in Shula. Also, security forces said 55 militants were killed and 20 were wounded.
In the village of Basheer, near Kirkuk, militants tried to take over a predominantly Shi’ite Turkmen town. Peshmerga troops and local police managed to reclaim most of the village. Over 5,000 have fled. A Kurdish brigadier was wounded while six of his bodyguards were killed.
In Falluja, shelling killed six people and wounded 16 more. Security forces reported killing 270 militants during an airstrike. The airstrike did take place and leave many casualties. It is unclear if this estimate is fairly accurate.
A bomb killed a soldier and wounded two more in Zaidan.
Clashes in Taza wounded one civilian.
The army says about 70 fighters were killed in Samarra.
Twelve militants were killed in Adhaim.
In Muqdadiya, security forces killed 15 militants.
Four militants were killed in Jalawla.
Peshmerga forces killed three militants in Saidiya.
Many militants were killed in Tal Afar clashes.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees fled clashes in Qaim by returning to their home country.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- Suicide Bombers Blow Themselves up; Four Killed in Iraq – March 24th, 2019
- Truffle Gatherers Under Attack; Three Killed in Iraq – March 22nd, 2019
- 30 Found in Yazidi Mass Grave; Three Killed in Iraq – March 21st, 2019
- Soldiers Ambushed near Baghdad; 12 Killed in Iraq – March 19th, 2019
- PKK in Fresh Clashes; Eight Killed in Iraq – March 17th, 2019