How the US is helping Iran-backed militias in Iraq

Battle for Baiji shows how America and its allies have been forced into closer co-operation with Iran and its favoured militias in Iraq

American and allied jets are providing air cover for a coalition of Iraqi forces that includes one of the most feared Iran-backed Shia militias, which stand accused of grotesque human rights abuses, The Telegraph can confirm.

Members of the Imam Ali Brigade are fighting alongside US-trained Iraqi special forces in the battle for the city of Baiji and its oil refinery, Iraq’s largest, special forces soldiers said.

Banners belonging to the brigade were also fluttering at the scene of the battle. The fight is a vicious back-and-forth campaign being fought both inside the refinery compound and the city, and in the desert surrounding them, that has lasted almost a year.

Coalition jets have joined in to bomb Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant positions, both the troops and the Pentagon say.

Iraqi special forces “Golden Brigade” during the battle for Baiji Oil Refinery

“I can communicate directly with the (US) embassy command centre, or even with the pilots,” on of the special forces soldiers tasked to call in air strikes said, as coalition jets flew overhead.

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US claims 10,000 Isil fighters killed by airstrikes in Syria and Iraq

The battle for Baiji shows how the United States and its allies have been forced into closer co-operation with Iran and its favoured militias in Iraq, despite long opposition to the policy, but also how that has become inevitable if Isil is to be beaten back.

Baiji city, on the road from Baghdad north to Mosul, was seized last June as Isil swept through central and northern Iraq. Troops guarding the oil refinery were able to hold out, however, and were under siege for ten months.

The battle raged all through the period – at one point at the end of last year, the army was able to seize back most of the city, but was driven out in an Isil counter-attack.

Then Isil managed to break into the refinery itself in April, just as a relief force comprising army special forces and Shia militia managed to break through to relieve the compound. Now that relief force is trying to encircle Isil in both the compound and the city.

Members of the Imam Ali Brigade are fighting alongside US-trained Iraqi special forces

The jihadists use the frequent spring sandstorms as cover to counter-attack when US jets cannot see their targets. When The Daily Telegraph visited the refinery, a dark smoke swirled from the refinery’s reserve tanks, which the jihadists managed to set on fire when they broke in, and with that and the dust it was impossible to see from where the jihadists’ fire was coming.

Isil tanks were 600 yards away, soldiers said, as the firing came closer.

“Isil is destroying the infrastructure by burning the towers with car bombs, to prevent the reopening of the refinery for many years even if we regain control of it,” Lt Yasser Saleh said.

Last summer, after the Isil siege of the town of Amerli was lifted by a force which included Shia militias, members of the Imam Ali Brigade posed with the heads of Isil fighters, as a form of vengeance for the hundreds of Shia soldiers and fighters executed by the jihadists.

At the weekend, its fighters were accused of responsibility for suspending a jihadist over an open fire to roast him, though its leaders issued a statement condemning the act.

The group spearheads the Asaib al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, a group notorious for its killings and kidnappings during Iraq’s post-invasion civil war, including the capture of the British engineer Peter Moores and killing of four of his bodyguards.

The Battle for Baiji Oil Refinery. has been going on since June last year

Asaib was one of a number of militias accused by Human Rights Watch of running amok after the battle of Amerli, looting and destroying villages, and of more widespread killings and abductions.

The US has said it will back the Iraqi army and its special forces, known locally as the Golden Division. It has consented to militias participating in the fighting, but only so long as they are under the command of the army.

With the majority of forces now militia that appearance is maintained by putting them under an umbrella group known as the Hashed al-Sha’abi, or Popular Mobilisation Units, which are answerable to the prime minister as commander-in-chief.

In practice, the chief military strategist is Haider al-Ameri, the military leader of the Hashed. He is close to Qassem Soleimani, head of the Al-Quds elite brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Gen Soleimani masterminded the relief of Amerli and the recapture of Tikrit personally, before being withdrawn to Tehran under suspicion that his high-profile role was undermining the Iraqi government.

However, since the fall of Ramadi two weeks ago, he has resurfaced, and at the weekend was once again pictured with Mr Ameri in the desert between Ramadi and Baiji. Another of his Iraqi lieutenants is said to be leading the fight in Baiji.


PM Haider Al-Abadi (Facebook)

Prime Minister Dr. Haider Abadi participate in the summit of the seven big states that will be held in the German capital Berlin on Sunday and Monday, at the official invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, looking summit, many of the economic issues and international crises, particularly the fight against terrorism. And meet Mr. Prime Minister adult leaders of the seven countries, led by US President Barack Obama to discuss further support Iraq in the face of the terrorist organization Daash.

Washington: start to hand over Iraq weapons shipments worth $ 1.6 billion

History of edits:: 2015/6/5 22:21218 visits readable
US officials said the United States began quietly pledged supplied weapons that the Iraqi army from a fund worth $ 1.6 billion, delivery process and Congress approved last year created in the wake of the growing frustration of Baghdad slow aid provided by the coalition against al-Islamic state.
The US Department of Defense [Pentagon] The delivery of the equipment that the long-awaited start of “training and equipping Iraq” Fund about two weeks ago and that things are taking place at the fastest pace possible.
Officials pointed to a previous transfer and intensely weapons from a variety of points of US operations.
Oliphant said Douglas, a former adviser in the Iraqi affairs in the administrations of former US President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama, “They [the Iraqis] complain of very slow in implementing the program but in fact the administrative system is slow.”
But by contrast Olyphant adds, “ask [the Iraqis] Russian fighter jets and Atzlmunha after month.”
And equipped with the first batch of training and equipping Iraqi brigade Fund in the Iraqi army with rifles and machine guns and rocket launchers, grenades, mortars and masks and other equipment.
Said Commander Elissa Smith, spokeswoman for the Pentagon that more weapons on their way to Iraq.
She explained, “That was the first installment of the planned processing units shipments [military] which will include units of Peshmerga.”
She pointed out that “the first shipment of equipment from the allocated fund for Iraq posted in the same week that fell in front of the gray Daash organization.”
And he said that he was also in the beginning of last week send anti-tank weapons of the type [AT. T-4] have been funded from the Fund.
He said a US government official who asked not to be named, “we are still almost at the starting point for [to achieve the goal of establishing] train and equip Iraq Fund” .anthy

Iraq is likely to produce OPEC members remain at 30 million barrels

History of edits:: 2015/6/5 9:3485 visits readable
Iraq likely survival of the production of countries members of the Organization [OPEC] of crude oil on world markets at 30 million barrels per day.
A spokesman for the Oil Ministry, Assem Jihad told all of Iraq [where], that “member states will discuss today’s market conditions for oil and review developments and take a decision to either keep the current output of the Organization of about 30 million barrels a day, or to change it,” but he also said, “but unlikely is kept at current levels. “
He added that “Iraq’s crude oil exports are outside the Organization quotas [OPEC],” pointing out that “Iraq is not yet up to its share of assessments.”
It is scheduled to meet the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC], which contribute more than 40% of crude production in the world on Friday in Vienna, said a senior delegate Gulf in the organization Tuesday that there was a consensus within the organization to maintain the current production levels of about 30 million barrels per day.
The official added, saying, “No one wants to shake the boat, it is expected that the meeting runs smoothly.”
The delegation of Iraq at OPEC meeting chaired by Oil Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi .anthy 2

US Air Force commander: We will support the Iraqis in Ramadi and edit Daash growing danger

History of edits:: 2015/6/5 23:26181 visits readable
Commander of the joint air forces in the US Central Command John Hustrman team said that the international coalition forces “can prosecute enemy in urban areas and we have weapons that allow us to do so and we will be alongside Iraqi forces when moving in Ramadi.”
He Hustrman a news briefing today that “the Air Force to the coalition forces and the Iraqi government security forces given the time needed to prepare and implement a sustainable and counter attacks.”
A US military official believed that “the Air Force to the coalition forces have contributed to almost every victory achieved on the battlefield in the fight against al-Daash ground forces and helped to restore the land and the elimination of more than a thousand fighters a month and with them most of the organization in the capacity of oil refining.”
“The Air Force gives all coalition countries space and time for the implementation of the international effort in coping with the influx of foreign fighters and to address the funding received by Daash and the provision of humanitarian assistance and counter-messages-driven organization and give stability to the liberated areas and all that is necessary to end the existence of the organization.”
He said US General “we said with many it will be a long battle, and there will be setbacks tactical should not give Daash any entitlement to them and undoubtedly we are and the Alliance are fully committed to the strategic defeat of the terrorists Daash” stressing that the leadership of the organization and lines connected to all of the equipment at an increased risk “.
He pointed out that “in Syria would attack coalition forces Daash organization in all places possible, rejecting in contrast to comment on the military plans about Hbat.anthy City

IMF announces preliminary approval to help Iraq in its war against al “Daash”

إقتصاد وبورصة

Washington – AFP

IMF announced Friday that he gave his agreement in principle to help plan worth about $ 830 million for Iraq to counter the economic impact of the conflict with the organization “Daash.”

She said the International Monetary Fund after the mission teams in the region that “the Fund is ready to support Iraq in its efforts to cope with the economic impact left by the conflict with al (Daash) and the decline in world oil prices.”

The IMF said “armed conflict sources put the country under tension and create a human tragedy,” adding that the infrastructure and facilities to the private sector has been “damaged.”

In order to help Iraq, it gave the International Monetary Fund teams agreeing to help plan of $ 833 million must be approved by the Member States of the “July” July

82nd deploys to Iraq amid questions about Iraqi forces

By Michelle Tan, Staff writer10:04 a.m. EDT June 4, 2015

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division are deploying to Iraq this month.(Photo: Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston, Army)

Fort Bragg, N.C. — As the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters prepares for its upcoming deployment to Iraq, one of its key challenges will be to instill confidence and “that will to fight” in its Iraqi counterparts, one of the division’s top commanders told Army Times.

“The biggest thing we do … is that intangible yet incredibly critical aspect of instilling confidence in Iraqi forces, that they absolutely can defeat these [Islamic State group] forces,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Winski, deputy commanding general-operations for the 82nd Airborne Division.

The division headquarters and the troops deployed to train and advise the Iraqis will continue to provide “good, quality training” to the Iraqis, Winski said.

“They’re numerically superior, they’re better equipped,” he said. “We’ve just got to re-instill that confidence and, at the lowest levels, that will to fight. The biggest tools we have to do that are the provision of airstrikes and good, quality training to reignite that all-important confidence they need to attain tactical victories.”

At the same time, the soldiers also will focus on leader development, Winski said.

“Leadership is fundamentally the most important element of combat power,” he said. “It’s more important than the amount of firepower they can bring to bear. It’s more important than the equipment they have.”

Strong leaders who endure hardships with their soldiers and are tactically and technically competent inspire confidence in their troops, Winski said.

“Some of that stuff atrophied, frankly, from the time we left [in 2011] until now,” he said.

In recent weeks, questions have been raised about the Iraqi army’s will and ability to fight — and, in effect, the U.S. military’s efforts there — especially after the Islamic State terror group captured Ramadi without much of a fight.

In defending Ramadi, Iraqi forces “were not outnumbered, but, in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said shortly after the city fell.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who served multiple tours in Iraq, said the events in Iraq have been “incredibly disappointing to me, personally.”

“I really believed, at that time [in 2010], that in five years or so, Iraq would be doing very well, but, frankly, they fractured,” he said.

Going into its nine-month deployment, soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters must understand the nature of their mission, Winski said.

“We’re there to support the Iraqis,” he said. “We have to understand and nest their priorities with the proposals we’re offering them.”

The challenge is then to tailor the training provided to the Iraqis so that the result is “the long-term, sustainable clearance of ISIS forces out the west and up north and re-securing the borders,” Winski said.

The 82nd Airborne headquarters last deployed to Iraq in 2006, and the mission there today is different from the mission then, he said.

“The frustration is, in years past, when we were the lead in terms of the security line of effort, it’s obviously far simpler to apply your own forces and capability against a clearly defined threat,” Winski said. “Now, our role is to advise the Iraqis on how best to address the threat.”

About 500 soldiers from the division headquarters will deploy in June. They will replace soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division headquarters and are expected to be deployed for nine months.

Once in Iraq, the 82nd Airborne headquarters, led by Maj. Gen. Richard Clarke, will be in charge of U.S. and coalition land forces there, to include about 1,300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The soldiers from 3rd BCT have been training and advising Iraqi forces since January.

As the headquarters prepares to deploy, the rest of the division will maintain the 82nd Airborne’s mission as part of the global response force.

“The 82nd will be the nucleus of the nation’s global response force, and that’s unchanged,” Winski said.

The division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team currently has the GRF mission; it will hand off those responsibilities to 1st BCT in December, he said.

Because most of 3rd BCT is deployed, the remaining two brigades are shouldering the GRF mission for longer periods of time, Winski said.

“It’s right now a little more than a year, but the brigades are bigger now,” he said, adding that before the Iraq mission for 3rd BCT came up, the goal was to have each brigade take on GRF responsibilities for eight months at a time.

“We were almost there,” Winski said.

What has helped ease the burden slightly is the addition of a third maneuver battalion to each brigade combat team, Winski said. This allows the division to rotate the quick-reaction force element — which is a battalion-sized element available to respond within 18 hours — more frequently, he said.

To maintain its edge, the 82nd Airborne has numerous training events lined up, including a second rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, for 1st BCT before it assumes the GRF mission.

Soldiers from 1st BCT also will travel to Germany in August and September for Swift Response 15, a combined joint certification training event led by XVIII Airborne Corps. The exercise will also include soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, the 75th Ranger Regiment and 10 partner nations.

Also in August, soldiers from 2nd BCT will participate in a large joint forcible entry exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, where they will train alongside special operations forces.

“When you talk about how seriously we have to take the readiness for the global response force, these exercises will ensure that when 1st Brigade takes that on in December, they’re as trained as any force can be,” Winski said. “We’ll preserve the global response force. It will be a force that is most ready when the nation is least ready.”

As for the threat of more and deeper budget cuts, Winski said he is confident the global response force mission will remain a top priority. What he’s concerned about is how well other units will be funded as the budget shrinks.

“We’re a contingency force. Our concern is whether the follow-on forces are trained and ready to execute the longer-duration tasks that would be expect of them,” he said.

For example, if the Army is forced to cut combat training center rotations at NTC or JRTC, that could have “a huge impact” on readiness, Winski said.

“That’s a whole brigade that isn’t afforded that premiere training opportunity,” he said. “All the leaders of that brigade lose that experience that’s so essential. When sequestration hit last time, we lost some of those CTC rotations, so it had a resonating effect.”

Senior Army leaders have some tough decisions to make, but “with regard to the chaotic fiscal environment, I’m very confident the global response force will be at a very high readiness,” Winski said. “The mission in Iraq is obviously our focus, and we are absolutely trained and ready for it, and we’re maintaining the capability the nation requires as the global response force throughout all that.”

Iraq begins exporting heavy oil

Published: 2015/6/5 12:1220 Reads
Baghdad (AIN)- OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer, Iraq, is all set to increase exports after starting a new grade of crude to quell customer complaints about the quality of its oil.
The Basrah Heavy crude will be exported for the first time starting Monday, shipped from the south on the Persian Gulf, Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on his Facebook page. Orders for this month total 850,000 barrels a day, he said.
He mentioned that the step is important for keeping Iraq’s crude reputation. He also added that they have received a lot of complaints and thus oil exploration ceased in a number of fields.
Iraq is struggling to overcome an Islamist insurgency and years of under-investment in its oil industry. The country boosted exports to a record 3.1 million barrels a day in April, the International Energy Agency said in monthly report. With the new grade, Iraq will probably be able to ship 3.3 million barrels a day by the end of this year, according to Hamza Al-Jawahiri, an oil analyst in Iraq.
He added, “This month and coming months will witness an increase of exports from the south.”
Iraq previously sold only Basrah Light grade, and had to give discounts of as much as $3 a barrel because it wasn’t clear how much of the oil was heavy or light. Brent crude, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil, dropped 0.6 percent to $65.16 a barrel by 12:20 p.m. in Dubai on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Light oil is easier to refine into gasoline and diesel, while heavy crude is thicker and requires more processing to produce those fuels. As oil from Iraq’s south became heavier as the country tapped new wells, it wasn’t able to consistently supply cargoes of the same quality, forcing it to offer the discounts to some Basrah Light buyers.
Selling two grades will allow Iraq to better guarantee the quality of the two blends and to get the most value for its exports, Abdul Mahdi said. /End/
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