You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

World

  • Strike on crowded Gaza area kills 16, wounds 150
    JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip – An Israeli airstrike hit a crowded Gaza shopping area on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 150, hours after Israeli tank shells slammed into a U.N.
  • Observers turned back from Ukraine crash site
    DONETSK, Ukraine – International observers have turned back from another attempt to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down in eastern Ukraine.
  • Officials: 19 dead in eastern Ukraine region
     KIEV, Ukraine – Officials in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine say 19 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.
Advertisement

Iraq announces offensive against al-Qaida

BAGHDAD – Iraqi government forces and allied tribal militias launched an all-out offensive Sunday to push al-Qaida-linked militants from a city west of Baghdad, a military official said.

Since late December, members of an al-Qaida offshoot – known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – have taken over parts of Ramadi, the provincial capital of the largely Sunni western province of Anbar. They also control the center of the nearby city of Fallujah, along with other non-al-Qaida groups that also oppose the Shiite-led government.

The officer said fierce clashes were taking place, but gave no details.

Hours after the offensive was announced, Iraq’s Prime Minister vowed to continue fighting “terrorism,” but left the door open for any political solution.

“Our battle is firstly to beat and eliminate terrorism,” Nouri al-Maliki said in a speech in the southern city of Nasiriyah. “Though we welcome any solution, any proposal and any political meeting that should realize the priority of destroying terrorism, al-Qaida, its formations and its allies,” al-Maliki added.

To the east of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire Sunday on a checkpoint run by an anti-al-Qaida, pro-government Sunni tribal militia outside the city of Baqouba, killing the local leader and four assistants, a police and medical officials said. The former al-Qaida stronghold Baqouba is located about 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the capital.

The Sunni militia, known as the Awakening Council, was formed by U.S. forces during the height of the insurgency. They are seen as traitors by al-Qaida’s local branch and other militant groups.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year, particularly since late last month after authorities dismantled an anti-government Sunni protest camp and arrested a Sunni lawmaker on terrorism charges. To alleviate the tension, the army pulled back from the two cities, but that allowed al-Qaida militants to seize control.

Last year, the country saw its highest annual death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 in 2013. Sunday’s attack on the Awakening Council members brought the death toll so far this month to 364, according to an Associated Press tally.

––––––––

Follow Sinan Salaheddin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sinansm

Advertisement