Archive for August, 2016

Iraqi Kurds advance near Islamic State-held city

August 14, 2016

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have retaken five villages east of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in an operation launched early Sunday. U.S.-backed Kurdish forces known as peshmerga aim to “clear several more villages” in “one of many shaping operations” that will increase pressure on the extremist group, the Kurdish region’s Security Council said in a statement.

Peshmerga Brig. Gen. Dedewan Khurshid Tofiq described the operation outside Mosul as “ongoing.” Rudaw, a local television network, showed footage of smoke rising from a village in the distance as armored vehicles pushed across a field.

The council’s statement said the area cleared is about 50 square kilometers (20 square miles). It said the U.S.-led coalition is supporting the operation with airstrikes, one of which destroyed a car bomb.

Iraq’s Health Ministry meanwhile said a fire which swept through the maternity ward of a hospital in Baghdad last week was a “crime” and not an accident, without providing further details. The blaze in the capital’s Yarmouk hospital killed 13 people, according to the ministry’s statement.

Also on Sunday, Iraqi President Fuad Masoum approved the death sentences of 36 men sentenced to hang over the June 2014 massacre of hundreds of military recruits based near the central city of Tikrit. The Islamic State group massacred the soldiers and buried them in mass graves during its lightning advance across Iraq that summer.

Iraqi forces have made steady progress against the extremists in recent months, and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is the group’s last remaining urban stronghold in the country.

Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq contributed to this report.

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Iraqis take to the streets in protest at government corruption

August 13, 2016

Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday in protest at the government’s “financial and administrative corruption,” Anadolu has reported. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities across Iraq.

The protesters gathered in Al-Tahrir Square in the middle of Baghdad. Bridges and main streets in the capital were closed by the security forces.

Protesters directed their grievances at Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi as they called for an end to corruption in government. They also want “comprehensive changes” in government appointments to key positions across the country.

“The government is still unable to investigate officials who affiliate to political parties and hold them accountable for their corruption or failure to run the government and service institutions,” one protester told Anadolu. “A year ago,” claimed Ahmed Radi, “Al-Abadi made several pledges, including a pledge to fight corruption, prosecute corrupt officials and approve a transparent and quality appointments system, but none of this has been done.”

Such anti-corruption protests have been held for almost a year. Aside from the calls to end corruption and for the prosecution of corrupt officials, the people want an end to political differences in parliament.

According to the Transparency Index, Iraq has been among the most corrupt countries in the world for many years. Many other international organisations have reported that there is “waste, fraud and embezzlement of public funds” on a major scale.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160813-iraqis-take-to-the-streets-in-protest-at-government-corruption/.

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