A landmine blast in the Iraqi city of Mosul has killed one Kurdish and one French journalist, as Iraq's forces push deeper into the last remaining areas held by ISIL fighters.
Kurdish reporter Bakhtiyar Addad, who was working with a French team as a fixer and interpreter, was killed in Monday's explosion, according to public broadcaster France Televisions and global journalist rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
French journalist Stephan Villeneuve and two other French journalists were also wounded in the blast. Villeneuve later succumbed to his wounds, the broadcaster said in the early hours of Tuesday.
Posts on his Facebook page show Haddad, 41, helping a French-language weekly magazine to publish photos of ISIS militants of French nationality.
“Not everybody can find the photos of French ISIS militants who are in Mosul,” read his last Facebook post on Thursday. “[Only] experts can do it. This is again helping the Republic of France to find them again. Some of these people are back in France. The Paris Match magazine got these photos through me.”
XINHUA notes two more French journalists were left injured in the blast. FRANCE 24 adds:
A video journalist who had covered a number of conflicts across the world, Villeneuve was filming a piece together with Veronique Robert on the battle of Mosul for French news programme Envoye Special, aired on public television channel France 2.
They were both taken to a hospital on a US military base following the explosion.
Reporter Samuel Forey, who worked for a number of French media organisations including French daily Le Figaro, also suffered light injuries.
Two journalists killed in blast in Iraqi city of Mosul http://cnn.it/2sltQnZ
The Mosul Slog continues. Day 244 of The Mosul Slog.
Still not completed. Still ongoing.
Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:
Backed by US airstrikes, artillery and special forces “advisors,” Iraqi troops began storming Mosul’s crowded Old City, where the United Nations estimates that some 150,000 civilians are trapped under the siege.
Iraqi commanders have issued triumphalist statements hailing the offensive as the beginning of the end for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which took control of Iraq’s second-largest city after government troops melted away in the face of their advance in June 2014.
“This is the last chapter” in the battle for Mosul, Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, the commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), the elite US-trained unit that has borne the brunt of the fighting, told the media Sunday. He warned that he expects a “vicious and tough fight.”
How long this “last chapter” will last is by no means clear. Some commanders have predicted that it will take at least a month to retake the area. US-backed Iraqi forces began their siege of Mosul eight months ago. Since then, thousands of Iraqi civilians have died under US bombs, rockets and shells. The UN has confirmed the killing of 230 civilians in western Mosul during the last two weeks alone, undoubtedly a significant undercount of the real death toll. The rest of the population has been reduced to desperate conditions, without adequate food, water or medical aid.
This final stage of the battle may well prove the bloodiest. The Old City is the most densely populated area of Mosul, with narrow alleyways that will make an advance by infantry troops difficult.
244 days later.
The operation that was supposed to last mere weeks.
244 days later it still drags on.
And what has it accomplished?
Creating more refugees and orphans?
Killing thousands of civilians?
What has been accomplished?
Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reports:
As the extremist group known as the Islamic State is driven out of the country, the Iraqi government is facing up to a new threat to its authority – this comes from the Shiite Muslim militias, once volunteers who came together to defend their towns against the Islamic State but who have since turned into a formidable, quasi-official fighting force.
The Shiite Muslim militias themselves are divided into three main groups, with some professing loyalty to the Iraqi government and the Shiite Muslim religious authorities in Najaf, while others openly admit they take orders from neighbouring Iran and Iranian clerics. A third group is affiliated with the Iraqi clerics, Muqtada al-Sadr or Ammar al-Hakim.
The factions loyal to Iran differ from the others in that they are the most well-armed and more powerful than the others. They are called the Walaei militias – the word means “loyal” – and they say that they prefer to obey Iran’s spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that they see Iraq and Syria as one military front, where they will continue to fight even after the Islamic State, or IS, group has been expelled.
One of the around 20 different groups associated with the Walaei militias is the Khorasani Brigade, who are closely associated with Iranian General Hamid Taghavi, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who was killed fighting the IS group in northern Iraq in late 2014. Alongside pictures of Taghavi, the faction has idolizing pictures of Khamenei in its headquarters and on their military vehicles.
“I can openly say that we do not take our orders from the Iraqi government,” says Abu Hassan al-Atabi, one of the members of the brigade, speaking to NIQASH on the phone. “We fought in Iraq during these difficult times and we have fought to prevent the fall of Baghdad [to the IS group]. We will be present even after the extremists have been pushed out. The IS group is just one of our challenges,” he continued. “The conflict in the Middle East continues and we are ready to fight in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, or any other country where there are terrorists.”
244 days -- and don't kid yourself that the Iraqi government's used this time to improve things politically.
They can't even hold elections.
Provincial elections were supposed to take place in April -- two months ago.
That did not happen.
They've now been pushed back to the fall though many observers feel even that is unrealistic and some are calling for them to take place in 2018 when national elections take place.
As usual, Nouri al-Maliki has ensured that his interests will be protected -- one of his stooges has been put in charge of the Independent High Electoral Commission. Nouri's regularly used this 'independent' commission to decide who can and can't run. As usual, the inept Saleh al-Mutlaq will cover his own ass and he's on the commission as well. (Saleh's real good about making nice with Nouri and forgetting the election cycle that Nouri kicked him out.)
Nothing appears to have changed.
Mahmud Yasin Kurdi (RUDAW) speaks with Sheikh Faysal Hamadi who explains how ISIS took hold in Mosul:
“There was oppression against the people of Mosul. Sixty percent of the army and police forces were ghost employees. This made it easier for ISIS to invade Mosul in a short period of time,” he said.
He criticizes the previous Iraqi government led by Nouri al-Maliki.
“From time to time, they were taking a group of people to outside Mosul and killing them for connections with al-Qaeda. This made the people of Mosul help ISIS militants who could then control the city easily,” he said.
All this time later, what's changed?
The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley -- updated:
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