06/17/2014, 00.00
IRAQ

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Islamists marching towards Baghdad. Washington and Tehran ready to cooperate

Militias have conquered parts of Baquba and Tal Afar, now pointing in the direction of the capital. The United States sent hundreds of soldiers to defend the embassy and evaluate attacks with drones. Prime Minister of the Kurdistan warns partition of the country ever closer, Iraq as we know it could “no longer exist.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Iraqi government forces are engaged in heavy clashes with Sunni Islamist militants who have made major advances in the past week. Reports say parts of the city of Baquba - just 60km (37 miles) from Baghdad - have been taken over by the ISIS Sunni militants, led by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Its conquest would be strategic to point towards Baghdad without encountering direct obstacles in the path. Meanwhile militants have seized most of a key Shiite majority town in northern Iraq, a government official said on Tuesday, in fighting that has killed dozens of civilians and combatants. Security forces and civilian fighters still hold parts of Tal Afar, in Nineveh province, along a strategic corridor to Syria; instead Iraq security forces have regained control of Qaim, in the Western province of Anbar, 330 km from Baghdad, since now held by jihadist. 

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. 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 UN human rights chief said forces allied with ISIL had almost certainly committed war crimes by executing hundreds of non-combatant men in Iraq over the past five days.

The US is deploying up to 275 military personnel to protect staff at its huge embassy in the capital. Barack Obama considers the options available for halting the advance of Sunni militants. The soldiers, of whom 170 have already arrived in Iraq, are prepared and equipped for combat - though the President insisted it is not his intention for any of his troops to engage in direct fighting. Still open the possibility of attacks by drones.

In Vienna, US officials held brief discussions about Iraq with their Iranian counterparts at a meeting about Tehran's nuclear programme. An official channel between Washington and Tehran, two historical enemies, is still an option, but Americans have been quick to dismiss reports of military collaboration with a major foe. 

Eventually, it's becoming more and more likely the possibility - opposed by Catholic Church - of a partition in there parts of the Country: Shia in South and East, Sunni in the West, Curds in the North. In his BBC interview, the prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, said Sunni areas felt neglected by the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, and a political solution was the only way forward. He said creating an autonomous Sunni region could be the answer. Iraq may not stay together and it would be very hard for Iraq to return to the situation that existed before the Sunni militants, spearheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), took control of the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit in a rapid advance last week, and Tal Afar on Monday.

 

 

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