Iraq appeals for US air strikes on advancing militants

2014-06-19 12:19
(AFP, HO, ISIL)

(AFP, HO, ISIL)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now

Baghdad - Baghdad has called for US air strikes on militants who attacked Iraq's main oil refinery and seized more territory in the north, putting US President Barack Obama under pressure on Thursday amid warnings the country could unravel.

The White House said Obama has not ruled out such strikes after a lightning eight-day offensive by Sunni fighters, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), that has seen them rapidly bear down on the capital.

While officials touted progress, militants seized three villages in northern Iraq and India said 40 of its nationals were kidnapped in Mosul, the city captured last week by insurgents at the onset of their offensive.

"Iraq has officially asked Washington to help... and to conduct air strikes against terrorist groups," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters in Saudi Arabia.

However, Zebari said "a military approach will not be enough. We acknowledge the need for drastic political solutions."

The US spent billions of dollars over several years training and arming Iraqi security forces after disbanding the Sunni-led army following the 2003 invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Washington has deployed an aircraft carrier to the Gulf and sent military personnel to bolster security at its Baghdad embassy, but Obama insists a return to combat in Iraq is not in the cards.

Iraq has scrambled to repel the militant offensive, with Maliki firing disgraced security commanders and vowing to "face terrorism and bring down the conspiracy."

"We will teach (militants) a lesson and strike them," he said.

Setback, not defeat

Maliki said that security forces, which wilted in the face of the offensive that overran all of one province and chunks of three more in a matter of days last week, had suffered a "setback" but had not been defeated.

His security spokesperson, Lieutenant General Qassem Atta, said security forces would shortly retake full control of Tal Afar, a Shiite town in the north that lies along a strategic corridor to Syria.

That would provide a base from which to launch operations to recapture Mosul, he said.

With regional tensions rising, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic "will do everything" to protect Shiite shrines in Iraqi cities against the militant assault.

And Saudi Arabia warned of the risks of a civil war in Iraq with unpredictable consequences for the region, while the United Arab Emirates recalled its envoy to Baghdad, voicing concern over "exclusionary and sectarian policies".

The US' Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel meanwhile blamed the Shiite-led government's sectarian agenda for fuelling the militant's advance.

"This current government in Iraq has never fulfilled the commitments it made to bring a unity government together with the Sunnis, the Kurds, and the Shia," he said.

Oil fears

An assault on the Baiji oil refinery in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad on Wednesday further spooked international oil markets.

Prices for both benchmark oil exports - Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate - rose after the pre-dawn attack.

However Washington said it had not seen any major disruptions in Iraqi oil supplies as a result of the assault.

"Iraqi authorities may need to import domestic fuel from neighbouring countries," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

But "there's no impact on Iraq's crude oil exports and we haven't seen any major disruptions in oil supplies in Iraq," she added.

Officials said security forces controlled the refinery, but clashes were ongoing, with Atta saying that 40 militants were killed and that several tanks containing refined products caught fire.

The refinery was shut down and some employees evacuated on Tuesday due to a drop in demand caused by the militant drive.

World oil producers have cautiously watched the unfolding chaos in Iraq, which exports around 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, and said that the country's vast crude supplies, mostly in the south, were safe for now.

'Life threatening for Iraq'

The militants' swift advance has sparked international alarm and the UN has warned that the crisis was "life-threatening for Iraq".

Analysts suggested that the country could unravel, surviving at best as a federal state.

"I don't think it's impossible, but it is highly unlikely," said John Drake, an Iraq analyst with AKE Group, when asked if Iraq could remain united.

In New Delhi, the foreign ministry said 40 Indian construction workers were abducted in Mosul while 46 Indian nurses were stranded in the militant-held city of Tikrit.

Last week, as the offensive got underway, ISIL fighters kidnapped 49 Turks in Mosul, including diplomats and children, after seizing 31 Turkish truck drivers.

Maliki sacked several top security commanders on Tuesday, then stood alongside several of his main rivals in a rare display of unity among the country's fractious political leaders.

The dismissals came after soldiers and police fled en masse as insurgents swept into Mosul, a city of two million, on 9 June.

Some abandoned their vehicles and uniforms when faced with the insurgents, which are led by ISIL fighters but also include Saddam loyalists.

After taking Mosul, militants captured a major chunk of mainly Sunni Arab territory stretching towards the capital.

Despite the initial poor performance of the security forces, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said Iraqi troops, with help from Shiite volunteers, were "stiffening their resistance" around Baghdad.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  iraq  |  us  |  war
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may be bothering you. A flooded mind and impulsive reactions are not a good combination as you are not thinking clearly....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.