Middle East

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Iraq warns of ‘a thousand Bin Ladens’ in SOS plea to world for help stopping Isis advance

Published 17/06/2014|13:23

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Mideast Iraq
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website) Date : June 15, 2014 02:15:37 PM 
Source: AP 
Special Instructions: AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS IMAGE POSTED ON A MILITANT WEBSITE WHICH HAS BEEN VERIFIED AND IS CONSISTENT WITH OTHER AP REPORTING TO BE USED FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY 
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The pictures, posted online by jihadists who have taken territory across Iraq, show Shia men being led away bent double and lying in trenches after being shot. An Iraqi military spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the images. AP
Iraqi men flash victory signs as they leave the main recruiting center to join the Iraqi army in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Members of the Kurdish security forces stand guard as people, who fled from the violence in Mosul, arrive in their vehicles at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 14, 2014. The insurgent offensive that has threatened to dismember Iraq spread to the northwest of the country on Sunday, when Sunni militants launched a dawn raid on a town close to the Syrian border, clashing with police and government forces. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters and other Sunni Muslim armed groups have stormed several towns on the road to Baghdad after seizing the city of Mosul nearly a week ago. Picture taken June 14. REUTERS/Jacob Russell (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY)
Members of the Kurdish security forces stand guard as people, who fled from the violence in Mosul, arrive in their vehicles at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region June 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jacob Russell

The Iraqi ambassador to the US has issued a desperate plea for international assistance dealing with the rise of Sunni militants across his country, warning that a failure to do so will lead to the emergence of “a thousand [Osama] bin Ladens”.

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Comparing the threat to Iraq from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) with that to Afghanistan from al-Qa’ida, Lukman Faily has told a number of US media outlets that he wants to issue “an SOS, not just for us, but for the whole globe”.

The ambassador’s comments come as President Barack Obama considers the intervention options available to the US, from drone strikes to providing Special Forces training.

And while Mr Faily agreed that Iraq does not need to see the US put “boots on the ground”, the immediacy of the threat means there is not time for “long discussions” as to which measures will be taken.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the ambassador said: “What you had in Afghanistan, with one bin Laden – you will have a thousand of them. There will be no prisoners of war, and no rule of engagement but destruction.

“That’s the situation in Iraq, and that’s the size of the adverse impact on the whole of geopolitics.”

Mr Faily described the rise of Isis, which yesterday claimed its latest victory in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, as a “global tumour”.

He welcomed the prospect of international cooperation between the US and Iran, mooted yesterday by Secretary of State John Kerry, but added: “What we are saying is we cannot wait until tomorrow. A decision has to be made; it should have been made yesterday.”

Last night Mr Obama announced that up to 275 US soldiers have been sent to bolster security at the American Embassy in Baghdad, and White House officials said there are discussions over sending around 100 military personnel to offer the Iraqi army training and advice.

Discussing the level of international support needed in Iraq, Mr Faily told the radio station NPR: “We have said the fight is ours. We are, we have, we will, do this fight.

“But we need support and training. We need support and logistics. We need support and air supremacy. We definitely do not need two combat forces. We definitely do not need boots on the ground from the US. So that's the level of the support we have requested.”

Fears of an all-out war in Iraq have sparked a potential renewal in relations between the US and Iran, with both sides hinting at the value of cooperation to restore relative order to the country.

And while the White House continues to review its options, Iran's military leaders are beginning to act on the ground.

On Monday the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, General Ghasem Soleimani, was in Iraq to consult with the government on how to bring a stop to the insurgents’ territorial gains.

Iraqi security officials said the US government was notified in advance of the visit by Soleimani, whose forces are a secretive branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that in the past has organised Shia militia attacks on US troops in Iraq and, more recently, was involved in helping Syria's President Bashar Assad in his fight against Sunni rebels.

The need for a response on Iraq has also led to talks between the British Foreign Secretary and his Iranian counterparty Mohammad Javad Zarif, and today William Hague announced that the UK will be reopening its embassy in Tehran.

Mr Hague said he and Mr Zarif had discussed the “case for a further step forward in our bilateral relations”, and said Britain was looking at offering assistance with the Iraq crisis in a number of ways.

But he told the Commons yesterday: “We have made it clear this does not involve planning a military intervention by the United Kingdom.”

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