Iraqi military officials said Tuesday that Iraqi forces have retaken control of the government headquarters and nearly three-quarters of the strategic oil town of Beiji, which is located about 155 miles north of Baghdad and houses Iraq's largest oil refinery.
However, it is unclear as to whether the Iraqi soldiers have yet retaken control of the the oil refinery, which was captured by ISIS militants over five months ago and lies on the outskirts of the town. The refinery accounts for nearly one-quarter of Iraq's oil and has the estimated capacity of producing 320,000 barrels of oil each day.
Al Jazeera reports that retaking control of the town will be key for Iraqi forces to establish a base to attack neighboring town of Tikrit, which was another town captured by ISIS fighters this past summer. more >>
President Barack Obama revealed that the war on terror group ISIS is entering a "new phase" that will involve Iraqi ground troops pushing back against the jihadists, who have captured several cities across Iraq and Syria. The president insisted that the 1,500 additional American troops sent to Iraq will only assist local soldiers and will not engage in combat, however.
"Rather than just try to halt ISIL's momentum, we're now in a position to start going on some offense. The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL's capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making. Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back," Obama told CBS' News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer on Sunday.
"What hasn't changed is our troops are not going to be engaged in combat." more >>
Iraqi officials said Sunday that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS or Islamic State terror group, was wounded in a U.S.-led airstrike on a convoy of militants in Iraq, and a security strategist said the attack killed his close aide.
While Pentagon officials said they cannot confirm whether al-Baghdadi was in the convoy that was targeted, Iraq's Defense and Interior Ministries issued statements saying the ISIS leader had been wounded, according to The Associated Press.
An Iraqi Interior Ministry intelligence official also cited informants within the terror group as saying that the ISIS leader was hit in the town of Qaim in Iraq's western Anbar province. more >>
U.S.-led airstrikes destroyed a convoy of 10 armed trucks in an attack on what was believed to be a gathering of Islamic State, of ISIS, leaders near Mosul in Iraq, but it is unclear if the Sunni terror group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in the convoy. In Baghdad, dozens were killed in suicide attacks.
"I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL leaders near Mosul," Reuters quoted Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, as saying Saturday.
At least 10 ISIS armed trucks were part of the convoy, but it is unclear if al-Baghdadi was also there. "We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present," Ryder added. more >>
President Obama authorized Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday to send 1,500 more troops to Iraq to train and assist Iraqi forces in fighting Islamic State, or ISIS, militants, as was requested by Iraq's government.
Hagel was authorized "to deploy to Iraq up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel over the coming months, in a non-combat role, to expand our advise and assist mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces," The Pentagon said in a statement Friday.
There are currently 1,400 troops in Iraq. more >>
An Iraqi tribal leader revealed that at least 322 members of a single Sunni tribe have been killed at the hands of terror group ISIS in the western Anbar province. The tribe's senior leader has blamed the government for abandoning the people to the jihadists.
"The government abandoned us and gave us to ISIS on a platter," Sheikh Naeem Al Gaoud of the Albu Nimr tribe told BBC News on Sunday. "We asked them many times for weapons but they gave us only promises."
Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights confirmed that 322 people in total have been killed, following news that ISIS militants shot dead 50 men and women from the tribe on Friday night into Saturday morning. Another 65 people are said to have been kidnapped. more >>