الإثنين , مايو 17 2021

Iraqi PM welcomes Syrian air strikes



Kurdish soldier

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Fergal Keane reports on a massacre by Isis in an Iraqi village

The prime minister of Iraq has confirmed to BBC Arabic that Syria carried out air strikes on militants inside Iraqi territory this week.

Nouri Maliki said Syrian fighter jets had bombed militant positions around the border town of Qaim on Tuesday.

While Iraq did not ask for the raid, he added, it “welcomed” any such strike against the Islamist group Isis.

Isis and its Sunni Muslim allies have seized large parts of Iraq this month including the second city, Mosul.

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Analysis: Jim Muir, BBC News, Irbil, northern Iraq

The Syrian air strikes show how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are merging together, with Isis as a common factor. Once-rival fighters on the Syrian side of the border at Qaim have now pledged allegiance to Isis, giving it control of both sides.

If US drones are not yet involved, they soon could be, illustrating how the threat posed by Isis is creating a convergence of interests between players who so far have been adversaries.

That goes for Iran, too, which is deeply concerned about the sudden upheavals in Iraq. It has reinforced its positions along its own western border, where guards have been killed in an attack. There are reports that Iran has been heavily shelling border areas in the Kurdish mountains, where an Iranian Kurdish opposition group called Pejak has bases.

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The Iraqi government has struggled to hold back the militants’ advance from the north and west, and has also been receiving support from Iran, with whom its Shia Muslim leaders have close links.

The US, which also backs the government, has stressed that the militants can only be defeated by Iraq’s own forces.

Mr Maliki is seeking to form a new government but has rejected calls to create an emergency coalition which would include all religious and ethnic groups.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki in Baghdad, 23 JuneNouri Maliki is under pressure to form a broad coalition government

A Kurdish fighter watches an Isis position in Tuz Khormato, Iraq, 25 June   A Kurdish fighter watching an Isis position in Tuz Khormato, northern Iraq

Fleeing Iraqis near the Kurdish city of Irbil, 25 JuneFleeing Iraqis near the Kurdish city of Irbil

An Iraqi girl waits on a road near the Kurdish city of Irbil, 25 JuneA young Iraqi girl among refugees near Irbil

Shia Muslim volunteers in military training in Basra, Iraq, 25 JuneShia Muslim volunteers in military training in Basra

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has arrived in Baghdad to meet political and community leaders.

“As a friend of Iraq, the UK believes the urgent priority must be to form an inclusive government that can command the support of all Iraqi people and work to stop [Isis] in its tracks,” he said.

Russian jets

Speaking to the BBC in his first interview for an international broadcaster since the crisis started, Mr Maliki said Iraq had bought a number of used Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus.

He said the aircraft could be flying missions in Iraq “within a few days”.

Rania Alattar interviewing Nouri Maliki for BBC ArabicRania Alattar interviewing Nouri Maliki for BBC Arabic

The US, he added, kept delaying the sale of F-16 jets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis with Mr Maliki by phone last Friday, the Kremlin reported on its website at the time.

Mr Putin confirmed his “full support” for the government’s efforts to rid Iraqi territory of “terrorists”, it said, without giving details.

Mr Maliki said on Wednesday that forming a broad emergency government would go against the results of April’s parliamentary elections, which were won by his alliance of Shia parties.



Barham Salih

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Prominent Kurdish politician Barham Salih: “We need to empower the moderate Sunnis to take on Isis”

His political rival, Ayad Allawi, had proposed forming a national salvation government.

Reports say a unit of al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, pledged allegiance to Isis in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal, near the Iraqi border.

The Nusra Front, along with other rebel groups, has been fighting in Syria against Isis, which it sees as harming its cause with its brutality and extremism.

Map showing areas controlled by ISIS-led militants in Iraq

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