IRAQ. Basra governorate. Near Umm Qasr. March 16, 2009. Detainees walk after prayer at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention centre. At its peak, the prison located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad held 26,000 detainees.
Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping ISIS. The detention of large numbers of Jihadists and ex-Ba’athists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the former with the organisational skills of the latter. Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi’s deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL’s expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Strike Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, April 6, 2016. OIR is the coalition intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)
Iraqi soldiers treat a simulated crash victim during a vehicle evacuation training exercise at Camp Taji, Iraq, June 8, 2016. Task Group Taji conducted medical training to supplement Iraqi soldiers’ overall tactical capabilities. Training at building partner capacity sites is an integral part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve’s multinational effort to train Iraqi security forces personnel to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
More than 130 people, including many children, were killed and hundreds wounded in bombings on two crowded commercial areas in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, hospital and police sources have said.
The powerful explosions early on Sunday came near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the streets were filled with young people and families out after sunset.
The vast majority of the casualties came in the first blast, as a lorry packed with explosives blew up in the Karada district in central Baghdad, a predominantly Shia neighbourhood.
Sources told Al Jazeera that at least 130 people were killed and 200 wounded in the explosion which targeted a busy shopping area.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in the Karada district in an online statement, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitoring service.
Many of the victims were children, officials said, and there were fears the death toll could rise as more bodies could be lying under the rubble of devastated buildings.
In a separate blast, an improvised explosive device went off in a popular market in the mainly Shia neighbourhood of al-Shaab. Reports said at least at least five people were killed in that attack, and 16 were wounded. #PrayForIraq
Peshmerga soldiers acquire targets by using the scopes on their M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle during the sniper portion of a combined arms training exercise near Erbil, Iraq, July 26, 2016. The combined arms exercise allowed trainers to review the soldiers’ understanding of all the training conducted over the past several weeks during the modern brigade course. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve aims to enable and equip indigenous forces to take the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant head on while leveraging Coalition nation airpower to halt the terrorist’s momentum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kalie Jones/Released)
On February 12, 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a report in their online magazine Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian migrant workers that they had kidnapped in the city of Sirte, Libya, and whom they threatened to kill to “avenge the [alleged] kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church”.
On February 15, a five-minute video was published, showing the beheading of the captives on a beach along the southern Mediterranean coast. A caption in the video called the captives the “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church”. In the video one of the killers in camouflage declared in North-American English:
“Oh people, recently you’ve seen us on the hills of Al-Sham [Greater Syria] and on Dabiq’s Plain, chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims, and today we… are sending another message: Oh crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes especially when you’re fighting us all together, therefore we will fight you all together until the war lays down its burdens and Jesus peace be upon him will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine. The sea you’ve hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”
After beheading the hostages, a message appears on the screen: “The filthy blood is just some of what awaits you, in revenge for Camelia and her sisters (referencing Camelia Shehata, a Coptic Egyptian woman and wife of a Coptic priest who Islamists believe had converted to Islam and was detained by the Coptic Church because of it. She later denied the claim). Finally the speaker declares ”We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission,“ pointing his knife toward the sea. As in other ISIL videos, the captives wore orange jumpsuits, intended as a reference to the attire of prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The group of killers identified itself in the video as the "Tripoli Province” of ISIL. The leader of the squad performing the killings was identified as a Libyan expatriate who goes by the nom de guerre Al Qaqa'a Ben Omro.
After the beheadings, the Coptic Orthodox church released their names, but there were only 20 names. It was later learned that the 21st martyr was named Mathew Ayairga and that he was from Chad. He was originally a non-Christian, but he saw the immense faith of the others, and when the terrorists asked him if he rejected Jesus, he reportedly said, “Their God is my God”, knowing that he would be killed. Other sources spell his name as Matthew Ayariga and say that he was from Ghana.
On February 21, 2015 the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II announced that the 21 murdered Copts would be commemorated as martyr saints on the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar, which is February 15 of the Gregorian calendar. The commemoration falls on the feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
Kremlin: Turkey gave target for mistaken Syria strike
The Kremlin has said that Turkey had provided Russian forces with the target location for air strikes in Syria that accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said on Friday that “there should not have been Turkish soldiers within the limits of these coordinates”.
Besides the three fatalities, 11 soldiers wounded in Thursday’s incident, in which Russian forces, trying to target the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, hit a building where the troops were deployed, according to the Turkish army.
Russia and Turkey have joined forces against ISIL, also known as ISIS, around Al Bab, 30km south of the Syria-Turkey border, where Turkish forces are battling the group on the ground.
“The situation is obvious, unfortunately. Our military while launching strikes on terrorists followed coordinates that were given to us by our Turkish partners,” Peskov said.
Peskov stressed that the “causes of the incident are clear. There is no debate”.
Asked if this was a mistake by the Turkish intelligence, he said the incident was caused by a communications failure.
The Turkish military said it considered the Russian incident an accident.
But it reiterated on Friday it had given the coordinates of the building to its Russian counterparts on Wednesday.
The Turkish statement said the soldiers had been in the same position for 10 days and that their coordinates had been communicated to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria, and in person to the Russian military attache in Ankara.
READ MORE: Russia’s knockout game in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences in a telephone conversation with Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Kremlin said that the two leaders agreed to “enhance military coordination in the course of the operation in Syria against the Islamic State fighters and other extremist organisations”.
Speaking in the city of Afyon, Numan Kurtulmus, Turkish deputy prime minister, said it was important that Putin had expressed his condolences to Erdogan.
“From our side the issue is being investigated. Initial information shows this was an accident … and an undesired incident as a result of incorrect information, coordinates,” he said.
Against this backdrop, at least 23 ISIL fighters were “neutralised” in northern Syria by the Turkish military as part of the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield, the Turkish army said on Friday in a statement carried by the Anadolu news agency.
In addition, Free Syrian Army (FSA), with support from Turkish troops, hit 154 ISIL targets, including shelters, headquarters, defence positions and vehicles, the statement said.
Turkish fighter jets also destroyed seven buildings used as hideout, three headquarters and an arms depot of the group.
The Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield began in late August through FSA fighters backed by Turkish artillery and jets to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the threat along the Turkish border.
By contrast, Russia has been waging a bombing campaign in Syria in support of the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2015.
Turkey and Russia had a falling-out after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian plane on the Syrian border in November 2015, but the two countries have since mended ties and begun cooperation over Syria.
In another Syria-related development, Assad has rejected the creation of safe zones for refugees and displaced people in the country, an idea supported by US President Donald Trump, according to a transcript from an interview with Yahoo News released on Friday.
He indicated that he would welcome cooperation with the US in the fight against ISIL, however, as long as the US took a “clear political position” on Syria’s sovereignty and unity.
Assad has cautiously welcomed the new US administration’s focus on fighting opposition fighters, in which Trump has held out the possibility of cooperation with Russia
An Iraqi soldier fires an M14 sniper rifle as an Australian soldier, attached to Task Group Taji, spots a target for him during an advanced marksmanship class at Camp Taji, Iraq, July 17, 2016. The ability to accurately fire a sniper rifle will supplement Iraqi soldiers’ overall tactical capabilities. Training at the building partner capacity sites is an integral part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve’s multinational effort to train Iraqi security forces personnel to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joshua Powell/Released)
French Mirage 2000D’s receives fuel from a U.S Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq. April 8, 2016. Coalition forces fly daily missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. OIR is the coalition intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/Released)
Stein stated clearly that the U.S.’s current policies in the Middle East are destructive, and calls for an immediate end to drone attacks. She further states that U.S. foreign policy should be based on international law, and points to the recent agreement with Iran which, although far from perfect, is a good example.
* Support for governments that violate international law would immediately end under a Stein presidency. This includes all funding to Israel.
* The U.S. continues to ‘fix’ problems by doing more of what caused them in the first place. By changing the policy of funding and supplying weaponry to any repressive government or rebel group that seems to support U.S. interests, to one of adherence to international law, the creation of such groups as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) will cease.
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 5th Squadron 82nd Airorne Division 3rd Brigade train members of the Iraqi Army how to fire 120 mm mortors at Besmaya Range Complex, July 3, 2015. Training at the building partner capacity sites is an integral part of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve’s multinational effort to train Iraqi security force personnel to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. William Marlow/ Released.)
Telegraph has developed a map detailing the main findings of Human Rights Watch’s 2015 World Report!
The analysis of more than 90 countries is undertaken with human rights activists in the respective countries and this year, Kenneth Roth, HRW director, said human rights violations were fuelling the rise of groups like Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Boko Haram and others. “Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises,” Mr Roth said as the report was published on Friday. “Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them.”
In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris a number of world leaders have begun referring to the Islamic State as “Daesh.”
The terms ISIS, (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the Islamic State all have roots in the same origin. Daesh, however, seems opaque and out of place. The reason more and more world leaders using it, however, may simply be because the Islamic State doesn’t like it.
Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, observe soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 92nd Brigadeconduct a breach-and-assault training lane at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq. Members of the 2-505 PIR are training Iraqi soldiers in breaching and assaulting maneuvers as part of a six-week course to improve the Iraqi Army’s combat proficiency. The 2-505 PIR are part of the Combined Joint Task Force to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant by building the military capacity of Iraqi Security Forces, an effort that has produced more than 6,000 newly trained Soldiers, with another 5,000 currently in training.
(Sgt. Deja Borden, CJTF–OIR Public Affairs, 26 MAR 2015.)