The full extent of the troubles that have befallen the Yazidi people of northern Iraq has not yet come to light, but the fighting for their land continues. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to consider stepping aside for Iraq’s sake. At least 938 people were killed and 107 more were wounded.
Many of the dead are Yazidis, dying from exposure were they have taken refuge or by execution at the hands of the Islamic State. Several bombs in Baghdad took more civilians lives. Over three hundred militants were killed, mostly in airstrikes.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in his weekly speech, cautioned everyone against selecting a new premier through unconstitutional means and admonished outside interference in Iraq politics. He was likely referring to Iran. Iran has been Maliki main benefactor, but now appears to be singing a different tune.
Although Iran is couching the change as a position the country’s leaders have maintained for a while, Iran is only now openly suggesting that Iraq cannot take another term of Maliki’s sectarian politics. They claim that Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has come over to their way of thinking, but Iraq’s most important Shi’ite leader had been already been calling on Maliki to step aside for weeks.
Meanwhile, a Samarra police official and a Sunni tribal leader both confirmed that Shi’ite militiamen set fire to Saddam Hussein‘s mausoleum in Awja. Saddam’s remains were secretly moved several months ago over fears that something like this could happen. Unconfirmed are rumors that the graves of his sons, Uday and Qusay, were desecrated.
The Northern Front:
According to Hallo Penjweny, a senior official from the Iraqi party Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.), fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) are in charge of restoring Kurdish control of Sinjar, but another official warned that it will be a few days before they can assure the Yazidis hiding in the nearby mountains safe passage. Until then, the refugees are receiving emergency rations of food and water via helicopter airdrops. But, it is not enough for everyone.
Penjweny also said that fighters associated with the Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), a Syrian group have retaken Rabeaa. The Peshmerga are currently handling operations at Zumer and Makhmour. But, Makhmour and Gwar have apparently fallen and Qara Qosh is not far behind. Al-Shallalat has also been captured.
The P.K.K. is a guerilla group that had been fighting in Turkey for an independent Kurdish homeland. They are listed as a terrorist group there, but they have recently begun peace negotiations with the Turkish government, after a decades-long war. The fighters may have already been in Iraq, as the P.K.K. maintained their secret bases on Iraqi land.
The P.Y.D. is affiliated to the P.K.K. and banned in Syria, but the group says it wants autonomy within a new Syria as opposed to the P.K.K.’s goal of an independent Kurdistan. Their fighters were reported in Rabeaa almost immediately after the takeover in Sinjar.
The strategic losses have forced the Kurdish region to begin talks with Baghdad over military cooperation, according to Jabbar Yawar, who is the secretary-general of the ministry overseeing the Peshmerga forces. He warned that the Peshmerga strategy of defense must now change to offense. There had been an uneasy truce between the Islamic State and the Kurdish military along most of the frontier between the two states.
At least 500 people have been executed in Sinjar and surrounding villages, according to lawmakers. That is up by 412 deaths from the previously known 88 killed. Also another 110 people died from lack of food and water up on Sinjar Mountain. Hundreds are missing. They are feared dead or captured.
In Mosul, held by Islamic State militants since June, air strikes left at least 30 killed, many of them possibly detainees. The militants were using a jail as a base of operations. Iraqi State TV said sixty militants were killed in the attack. A drone may have been involved in this operation. Also, about 300 prisoners escaped their militant captors.
At least another 67 were killed in ongoing strikes. Another airstrike killed at least five militants, one of them a leader. Residents have been forced to "donate" blood for injured militants, so many of those are clearly going uncounted. At least 11 militants were killed and 11 more were wounded. Two Peshmerga members were wounded as well. Battles are also taking place outside Mosul in Gogjalil (Kokjili).
A suicide truck bomber in Aliya Rash, near Mosul, killed a Kurdish major and wounded 13 Peshmerga members.
Between Mosul and Samarra a roadside bomb killed three Shi’ite volunteers.
Residents of Bashiqa have fled well ahead of any ISIS/DAASH advances.
Airstrikes in Qayara killed 96 militants.
Another 70 were killed near Mazar-Sharifidden.
The Shi’ite Turkmen town of Amerli proudly maintains its independence from the militants but at a great cost. Dozens of fighters there need care for their injuries. They are looking for help from the Iraqi air force. There may be a way to bomb a secure route from the town to Tuz Khormato.
In Baghdad, a late evening bombing killed 11 people in the Ur district, not far from Sadr City. At least four people were wounded. A blast in Neairiaya left one dead and nine wounded. One person was killed and three more were wounded in a blast in Zaafaraniya. At least seven more people were killed in the bombings, and 24 others were wounded. Two dumped bodies were found.
Six dumped bodies were found in Taji.
Airstrikes in Tal Massoud killed a number of militants.
Shelling killed three people and wounded four more at the Falluja hospital.
At least four militant leaders were killed during operations in Falluja and Garma.
Gunmen in Jurf al-Sakhar killed four policemen and wounded three more.
In Babel province, twelve militants were killed.
Security forces in Tikrit killed the nephew of the leader of the Islamic State.
A number of militants were killed in the Hamrin Mountains region.
Fourteen militants were gunned down in Saidiya.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- Elderly Shrine Tender Among Eight Killed in Iraq – February 16th, 2019
- More Truffle Gatherers Kidnapped; Four Killed in Iraq – February 15th, 2019
- Militia Convoy Attacked; 17 Killed in Iraq – February 14th, 2019
- Security Forces Rescue 30 Civilians; Three Killed in Iraq – February 13th, 2019
- 10 Bodies Found in Mass Grave; 3 Killed in Iraq – February 12th, 2019