06/12/2014, 00.00
IRAQ
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Islamic militants continue to advance: after Mosul, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Samarra and Baghdad

The extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) take 49 Turks hostage, among them the consul in Mosul. Fears of a drop in crude oil production. The Peshmerga defend Kirkuk; Moqtada al-Sadr prepares his Shiite militia to fight the ISIS. The United States and Iran provide aid to Iraq to fight terrorism.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The rebels jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are urging their groups to advance toward Baghdad and Samarra, after conquering the city of Mosul and some areas of the province of Nineveh and cities ​​of Kirkuk and Salaheddin.

Added to the humanitarian crisis around Mosul - from where about 500 thousand people, Muslims and Christians have fled -  is an unfolding diplomatic and economic crisis. The ISIS have taken 49 Turkish citizens hostage from the consulate in Mosul, including the consul, members of the special forces and 31 truck drivers.

The ISIS,  a group linked to Al Qaeda, is planning the establishment of a caliphate uniting Syria, Iraq and the Middle East, fighting the division of the States by the old colonial powers of France and Britain at the end of World War I . Yesterday photographs circulated on the web in which would-be members of the ISIS blew up the barriers at the border between Syria and Iraq.

ISIS is also one of the strongest Sunni extremist groups currently fighting President Assad in Syria, responsible for atrocities carried out on Christians as well as moderate Muslims opposed to their fundamentalism inspired by sharia.

The fighting in Mosul has also created an oil crisis: for months, because of ISIS incursions into northern Iraq, repairs on the oil pipline that connects the oil fields of Kirkuk to Ceyhan (Turkey) have been blocked. Even if the Baghdad government ensures that all the Iraqi crude oil is transported by sea from the Gulf, there are fears of a drastic reduction in production.

The ISIS advance in Iraq seems unstoppable. In the past days in Mosul, army and police crumbled and vanished before the militants onslaught. Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency and the people and volunteers to drive out the extremists. A first answer came from Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric known for his violence during the civil war of 2006. His intervention could prove to heighten tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in the country, already divided because of the anti-Sunni al-Maliki. For their part, the Kurdish authorities, who control the northern part of Iraq, have deployed a greater number of Peshmerga fighters to strengthen the defenses especially in Kirkuk.

While the rebel spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, pushes to win Samarra and Baghdad, the UN Security Council has condemned the capture of Mosul and expressed concern about the situation of the population.

The United States - which after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 kept troops in the country until 2011 - condemned the ISIS attacks and offered support to the Iraqi government. It is still unclear whether this aid will be air raids against rebel bases, training of Iraqi troops or a return of U.S. troops to Iraq.

In Tehran, Javad Zarif, foreign minister, said that Iran is willing "to offer its support to the Government and people of Iraq against terrorism."

 

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