LATEST: Government Orders Internet Cut-Off in 5 Provinces


As Iraqi forces tried this weekend to establish a defense line north of Baghdad against insurgents, there was a build-up of information that the al-Maliki Government may have ordered the withdrawal further to the north, giving up the cities of Mosul, Tikrit, and Kirkuk to opposition fighters and to Kurdish peshmerga.

The narrative last week was that tens of thousands of Iraqi troops had crumbled in Nineveh and Saleheddin Provinces. However, soldiers told the website Niqash that they were told to give up their positions:

The army withdrew from Mosul and that withdrawal is the responsibility of the senior commanders. The officer in charge was sitting in his office when I came in with some other soldiers. He told us he had received orders to withdraw from the city as quickly as possible. When he said that, we really thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. So we went out and told the others about the orders. That was when we started leaving the base, after changing out of our uniforms into civilian clothes.

Another account:

We are not deserters. Our commanders abandoned us while we were sleeping at night, and fled by helicopter.

When we woke up in the morning, there were no officials at the post. Our officers told us to put on civilian clothes and return to our families.

Soon after the fall of Mosul on Tuesday and Tikrit on Wednesday, Kurdish forces moved into Kirkuk, a vital point for Iraq’s oil industry and a city long contested between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen.

At the time, the story was of an agreed transfer from Iraqi forces to Kurdish peshmerga. But a mid-level Army officer says that Iraqi units did not want to leave; instead, they were ordered to surrender weapons and retreat.

He maintained, “We were ready to battle to death. We were completely ready.”

(Featured Photo: Reuters)

Government Orders Internet Cut-Off in 5 Provinces

The Communications Ministry has ordered 10 Internet service providers to shut down access in five provinces.

The two-page document, sent on Sunday, called for the shutdown in Nineveh, Anbar, Salaheddin, Kirkuk, and Diyala Provinces, and the blocking of Virtual Private Network access across Iraq from the hours of 4 pm-7 am.

The memorandum also reconfirms the Government’s ban on access to various social media networks, following the blocks on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube last week.

Video: Sunni Insurgents Use Tank Against Iraqi Forces in Kirkuk Province

The Sunni faction Jaish al-Mujahidin fires on Iraqi forces:

Insurgents Ambush Shia Volunteers Near Samarra, Kill At Least 29 & Injure 190

Insurgents ambushed and killed at least 29 Shia volunteer militiamen late Sunday just outside Samarra, the frontline of battles between opposition fighters and Government forces.

The volunteers had Ishaqi, retaken by Iraqi forces and militia, and were heading south to reinforce Samarra, 70 miles north of Samarra.

The convoy of refrigerator trucks was hit by a roadside bomb and insurgents then attacked with gunfire.

At a hospital morgue in Samarra, an official said there were 29 dead, with 190 volunteers wounded.

Speaking to The Guardian, a police officer describes the ambushes:

All the Ministry of Interior’s drivers were directed to transport the military and police recruits to different cities in Iraq to fill the gap for those who have deserted and protect the two holy shrines in Samarra. On the way to the city, I had to drive through the route of Ishaqi and Audhaim towns, where most of the ISIS fighters are based…..To my surprise, they were hiding in the groves and easily could spot my bus.

They fired a barrage of bullets against the bus. Four military recruits were killed immediately. I do not know how I got to Samarra with the other military elements and the four bodies….

In the morning my colleague took my bus and went to Mosul. At the end of the day, he came back by himself. The bus was hit by the ISIS shells and can’t be used any more. The second day I was ordered to go to Mosul myself, but at the last moment I was told to head to Basra to bring some necessary equipment for the ministry. I was kept in Basra for three days, to arrive at 5 pm to Baghdad, but I was contacted again at 10 pm to come back to the Ministry.

United Nations Moves 58 Staff To Jordan

The United Nations has relocated 58 members of staff to Jordan from Baghdad.

“Some 58 staff have been moved from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan. The intention is to relocate them in Erbil (in Iraqi Kurdistan). Some other relocations may also take place in the next few days,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The UN had less than 200 staff in and near the Iraqi capital.

Insurgents Take Saqlawiya, West of Baghdad

Insurgents have moved into Saqlawiya, west of Baghdad in Anbar Province, and captured six Humvees and two tanks.

Eyewitnesses said Iraqi Army helicopters hovered over the town to provide cover for retreating troops.

“It was a crazy battle and dozens were killed from both sides. It is impossible to reach the town and evacuate the bodies,” a medical source in nearby Fallujah said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Blames US for Insurgency and Islamic State of Iraq

Pouring cold water on the idea of cooperation with Washington over the Iraq crisis, the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader has blamed the US for insurgency and the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham:

Tikrit Resident: Insurgents Order Members of Security Forces & Government Employees to “Repent”

A resident of Tikrit tells The Guardian of the situation in the city, taken by insurgents last Wednesday:

The ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham) rebels held a meeting with those who have relatives in the army and the police, and the Government. They said they had no plans to to punish any Iraqi men as long as they expressed repentance for working for the al-Maliki government.

They have set up specific centres for officials to denounce the government. The repentants have to submit a copy of their IDs and two photographs to be immune from punishment….

Tens of policemen and military forces headed to these centres but soon they came under an airstrike by the the government aircraft….A few of them were wounded….

(Insurgents) have warned against looting in the absence of the military forces. Tribal leaders in the city have held meetings and appointed groups of men to maintain law and order.

The rebels have ordered the local commander of National Security, Jassim Jibara, and the head of the Awakening Councils, Winis Shiwash, to hand themselves in by the end of Monday. If they fail to do so, the rebels say they will launch an attack on their suspected hideout.

The governor of Tikrit, Ahmed Saleh, has fled to join the Iraqi military command base near the two shrines in the city of Samarra.

At the moment Tikrit only has power supplies for a hour per a day, but there is no shortage in fuel. Tikrit University was opened today and salaries were handed to the staff.

A Cease-Fire Between Kurds and Islamic State of Iraq in the North?

A Kurdish peshmerga officer has said that the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham has proposed a cease-fire by courier: “If you don’t attack us, we would not attack you.”

During the insurgent advance in northern Iraq last week, ISIS took parts of western Kirkuk Province, including the town of Hawija.

The last peshmerga checkpoint in the province is on the lower Zab River, near the town of Dubis and the city of Kirkuk. An ISIS checkpoint is only 0.5 km (0.3 mile) away.

Peshmerga moved into Kirkuk — a vital city for Iraq’s oil industry and contested between Kurdish, Arab, and Turmen factions — last week after Iraqi forces withdrew.

Families have fled the southern areas of Kirkuk Province to Kirkuk city, fearing retaliation by the Iraqi army against insurgents. Some said that their areas are already under shelling from Iraqi forces.

Local officials said wounded civilians from Hawija and other ISIS-controlled areas have been transported to Kirkuk hospitals.

Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister in Iran for Talks

The Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, is in Iran for discussions.

Barzani has met the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani.


Insurgents Take Tal Afar in Northwest Iraq

Insurgents have taken over Tal Afar, in northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border, after weekend fighting.

Residents said by telephone that opposition fighters took the town, with a population of 200,000, after both sides suffered heavy casualties. Mayor Abdulal Abdoul and an official of Nineveh Province confirmed the news.

“The city was overrun by militants. Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi’ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east,” said a city official.

Initial reports by some residents said insurgents attacked after Shia police and the Iraqi Army launched mortars.

Tal Afar, inhabited largely by members of the Turkmen community, is 60 km (37 miles) from Iraq’s second city Mosul, which insurgents captured on Tuesday.

US Embassy Moving Some Staff Out of Baghdad

Some diplomatic staff are being moved out of the US Embassy in Baghdad because of “ongoing stability”, while security personnel are being reinforced.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said staff would be “temporarily relocated” to US consulates in Basra in southern Iran, and in Iraqi Kurdistan in Erbil.

The number of staff being moved was not disclosed.

“Senior Official” Says US Preparing for Direct Talks With Iran

A “senior official” said on Sunday that the US is preparing to open direct talks with Iran about steps against the insurgency in Iraq.

US officials said they were not certain which diplomatic channel would be used; however, the approach could be on the sidelines of nuclear talks which resume on Monday in Monday.