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For first time, US targets IS training camp in Iraq: Centcom
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 18, 2014

Bombings, shelling kill 19 in Baghdad Shiite districts
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 18, 2014 - Two bombings and shelling in Shiite-majority areas of north Baghdad killed at least 19 people on Thursday, security and medical officials said.

In the Shiite shrine district of Kadhimiyah, a suicide bombing and shelling killed at least 14 people, while a car bomb in Tobchi killed five more, the officials said.

The attacks wounded more than 40 people.

There was no immediate claim for the attacks, but Sunni extremists, including those from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, frequently target members of Iraq's Shiite majority, whom they consider heretics.

IS-led militants launched a major offensive in June, overrunning large areas north and west of Baghdad and sweeping security forces aside.

Iraqi federal forces, Kurdish fighters, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen are fighting to regain ground from the militants, backed by US air strikes.

US aircraft have targeted a training camp for Islamic State jihadists in northern Iraq, bombing buildings, fighters and vehicles in the first such air strike, military officers said Thursday.

"In total, one air strike near an ISIL (Islamic State group) training camp southeast of Mosul destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle, two ISIL-occupied buildings and a large ISIL ground unit," the US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, said in a statement.

It was the first time US aircraft had targeted a training camp since the air campaign began on August 8, a US military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

About 40 jihadist fighters were on the ground at the time of the strike, the officer said.

A second air raid damaged an IS ammunition depot southeast of Baghdad, according to Central Command.

The air strikes, which involved both bombers and fighter jets, took place over the past 24 hours and "all aircraft exited the strike areas safely," it said.

US warplanes have conducted 176 air strikes against the Sunni extremists since August 8, mostly in northern Iraq.

President Barack Obama has vowed a relentless campaign against the IS group, which has seized a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Iran's Rouhani slams US troop veto in IS fight
Washington (AFP) Sept 18, 2014 - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticized the United States for its refusal to send troops into combat in the battle against Islamic State militants he claimed were seeking to "kill humanity."

Speaking in an interview with NBC television in Tehran before heading to the United Nations ahead of next week's General Assembly, the Iranian leader appeared to question whether the US could achieve victory over the IS group without putting boots on the ground.

"Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq? Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?" Rouhani told NBC according to excerpts of the interview.

"If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice?

"Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice."

His Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also cast doubt on the US strategy against the Islamic State group saying it was a "very dangerous phenomenon" which could not be "eradicated through aerial bombardment."

"We need to look at the problems that have given rise to these very difficult and disturbing developments," Zarif told a US think-tank, saying IS militants grew out of support from other countries who had created "a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators."

"We need new tools to deal with these new realities," Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations, suggesting the 2003 US invasion of Iraq had sown the seeds for the chaos now sweeping the Middle East.

The IS group had "an agenda to advance," Zarif said, warning all nations had to look at what "disenfranchisement has done to the people so that they are prepared to accept that type of savagery."

Rouhani said while airstrikes were necessary in "some conditions and some circumstances", they should only go ahead with the "permission of the people of that country and the government of that country."

US President Barack Obama has ruled out deploying US troops on the ground against the Islamic State group.

-Shame and sorrow-

US warplanes began airstrikes against the brutal extremist organisation's fighters in Iraq last month while building an international coalition against the group.

While critical of the United States' reluctance to send troops into battle, Rouhani said the Islamic State group must be stopped.

The group's executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Briton David Haines were at odds with Islamic tenets, he said.

"They want to kill humanity," Rouhani told NBC.

"And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity.

"And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it's the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind."

Rouhani said Iran would provide Iraq with any support necessary, but stressed a "red line" would be crossed if IS fighters moved on Baghdad or holy sites.


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Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

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Iraq Jihadists face growing pressure, but no US troops
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 17, 2014
Elite Iraqi troops backed by US jets battled jihadists near Baghdad Wednesday as President Barack Obama insisted US ground troops would not be deployed to battle the Islamic State group. Obama offered reassuring words to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, the headquarters of US Central Command, where he met with military commanders to discuss how to defeat the powerful and brutal e ... read more

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