Islamic militants killed at least 21 people in Baghdad and another Iraqi city on Tuesday in their offensive to capture the capital. Jihadists have also invaded Baiji, the country's largest oil refinery.
AFP News Agency reported that the violence came during a major offensive spearheaded by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, which has already captured the city of Mosul and much of the Nineveh province.
A car bomb killed at least 11 people and wounded more than 20 in the predominantly-Shiite Muslim area of north Baghdad, while five more bombings killed a further six people and wounded 14, officials said. more >>
The U.S. is sending nearly 300 troops into Iraq to protect the American embassy in Baghdad amid escalating threats that Islamic jihadists who have captured several cities in the region could move in on the capital.
"The personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," the White House said in a statement on Monday. "These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission. "
The approximately 275 U.S. military personnel were authorized by President Barack Obama who transmitted a report notifying Congress of the decision, which the White House says is consistent with the War Powers Resolution. more >>
Islamic militants, who have captured several cities in Iraq and are setting sights on Baghdad, have posted online photos of graphic mass killings of Iraqi soldiers. The U.S. State Department has called the claim that 1,700 Iraqi forces have been massacred "horrifying" and said that it exposes the terrorists' "blood lust."
"The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the blood lust that these terrorists represent," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"While we cannot confirm these reports, one of the primary goals of ISIL is to set fear into the hearts of all Iraqis and drive sectarian division among its people." more >>
Christians in Mosul city in northern Iraq are fleeing en masse with others, as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, who captured the city last week, are now looting and burning churches and forcing all women to wear the Islamic veil.
Assyrian International News Agency reports that the Sunni group ISIS – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – has gone on a rampage, looting and burning government buildings, raising its black flag and burning churches throughout Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh Province.
Men from ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq that was formed last April, have bombed an under-construction Armenian church in a Left Bank neighborhood near al-Salaam hospital, the agency says, adding that the Church of the Holy Spirit has also been looted. more >>
Christians are among half a million people who are fleeing their homes after Islamic extremists took control of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, earlier this week.
"What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic. The priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels this morning ... and now they have come here and entered Qaraqosh five minutes ago, and we are now surrounded and threatened with death ... pray for us," Fr. Najeeb Michaeel, a Dominican priest wrote from Mosul on Tuesday.
BBC News reported that jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq group, which is affiliated al-Qaeda, overran Mosul and much of the Nineveh province, also taking Baiji, where the country's largest oil refinery is located. more >>
BAGHDAD — Human rights groups have condemned an Iraqi bill that would permit girls younger than nine from the country's majority Shiite population to marry.
"Passage of the Jaafari law would be a disastrous and discriminatory step backward for Iraq's women and girls," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. "This personal status law would only entrench Iraq's divisions while the government claims to support equal rights for all."
Known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, the bill was approved by Iraq's Council of Ministers on Feb. 25, and would permit girls to marry, with their father being the only authority who could approve or deny the partnership. The proposed legislation would affect the country's Shiite population, which makes up between 65 and 70 percent of the country's 32 million people. more >>