Saturday, June 23, 2018

ISIS takes last major city in northern Iraq

IRBIL, Iraq — The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed control Monday of the last major city that had been held by the government in northern Iraq.

The government denied that Tal Afar had fallen to ISIS, but that assertion was contradicted by hundreds of families who fled for safety to nearby areas controlled by Kurdish militias.

If confirmed, ISIS' capture of Tal Afar would allow the group to consolidate its control of a strategic supply corridor between its Syrian and Iraq strongholds.

It would also end, at least for now, any claim by the central government in Baghdad to authority in northern Iraq and would allow ISIS to claim for its nascent Islamist caliphate a contiguous territory that stretches from the Syrian city of Raqqa through Iraq's Nineveh province to the outskirts of Baghdad.

The fall of Tal Afar would be freighted with historic import. American troops battled ISIS' early incarnation, al-Qaida in Iraq, for control of the city in 2005. At one time, the pacification of Tal Afar was considered a major triumph for U.S. forces.

There were also reports that a major battle was unfolding for the former U.S. military base at Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad. Residents reached by phone reported that ISIS and its Sunni tribal allies had mounted a two-pronged assault on the base from the west and the north.

The residents described heavy outgoing and incoming artillery fire and said Iraqi army forces were pulling back from the outskirts of town toward the base as they were attacked.

The Taji base, which was known as Camp Cooke to thousands of American service members in Iraq, is the country's largest military facility, and the town is the most important population center still in government hands on the northern approaches to the capital.

Refugees and residents from Tal Afar who spoke with relatives in Irbil described Tal Afar as mostly in ISIS' control, though some skirmishing was still taking place.

Large numbers of Christians who fled villages outside Tal Afar also were among the refugees.

"They are driving the people from their homes," said Avi, a Christian from Irbil who asked that his last name be withheld because he has family members living outside Tal Afar. "They murdered us in 2005, and the Americans could not protect us" he said, referring to al-Qaida in Iraq's activities in the city during the earlier conflict. "Now the Iraqi government cannot protect us. There is nothing left in Iraq for Christians."

The rapid advance by ISIS to the outskirts of Baghdad has put the capital on edge. On Monday, the United Nations announced that it would pull at least 58 staff members from its mission in Baghdad and move them to Amman, Jordan. The announcement came a day after the United States said it had reassigned an undisclosed number of staffers from its embassy in Baghdad to Amman or the relative safety of Irbil or Basra, in southern Iraq.

Comments
Wasserman Schultz: Two more South Florida facilities holding children separated from their families

Wasserman Schultz: Two more South Florida facilities holding children separated from their families

At least 10 newborns and toddlers taken away from their parents after crossing the the U.S.-Mexico border are being housed in so-called "tender-age shelters" near Miami, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the Miami Herald on Saturday.The Florida...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Authorities looking for

Authorities looking for "inmate" who left Bilirakis event

Authorities are searching for a man who they say took off from a New Port Richey political event while under supervision of a treatment center.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office described Nicholas Moore, 23, as both an "inmate" and a "member" of the A...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Pam Bondi confronted by protesters outside Mr. Rogers movie

Pam Bondi confronted by protesters outside Mr. Rogers movie

A group of protesters accosted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi outside the screening of the new documentary about Mr. Rogers at the Tampa Theatre on Friday night, questioning her about her recent actions on health care policy and her sta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Four federal officials gain entry to South Florida immigration complex, but five other officials get denied

Four federal officials gain entry to South Florida immigration complex, but five other officials get denied

As four federal lawmakers from Florida walked into the Homestead shelter housing 1,179 migrant children, five Miami-Dade and state elected officials were denied access to the facility on Saturday.The five state and local Democrats who wanted to asses...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kershaw set for return amid shaky forecast at Citi Field

Kershaw set for return amid shaky forecast at Citi Field

Clayton Kershaw has been activated from the disabled list and is set to pitch despite a shaky forecast at Citi Field
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kroos scores late to give Germany 2-1 win over Sweden

Kroos scores late to give Germany 2-1 win over Sweden

Toni Kroos scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time from outside the penalty area and 10-man Germany rallied to beat Sweden 2-1 to stay alive at the World Cup
Updated: 1 hour ago

Violence claims more lives in Nicaragua amid protests

A fresh wave of violence and repression has swept Nicaragua and claimed at least seven lives as international criticism mounts against the government
Updated: 1 hour ago

Toledo takes Champions lead; home star Stricker drops back

Esteban Toledo birdied four of the last six holes for a 6-under 66 and the second-round lead in the American Family Insurance Championship
Updated: 1 hour ago
Houlihan beats Simpson for USATF title in 1,500 meters

Houlihan beats Simpson for USATF title in 1,500 meters

Shelby Houlihan stormed past Jenny Simpson to win the women's 1,500 meters at the USATF national outdoor championships in Des Moines
Updated: 1 hour ago