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Shiite pilgrims throng Iraq's Karbala for mourning ritual
by Staff Writers
Karbala, Iraq (AFP) Oct 1, 2017

At least 1,200 Iraq personnel killed in Mosul operation: coalition
Washington (AFP) Sept 29, 2017 - At least 1,200 Iraqi security personnel were killed during the operation to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State group, the US-led coalition against the jihadists said on Friday.

"The October 2016 to July 2017 battle to liberate Mosul reflects a significant sacrifice by our Iraqi partners, who lost 1,200-1,500 personnel in action, with an approximate 8,000 more wounded," the coalition said in a statement.

It did not provide a breakdown of casualties among the various forces that took part in the grueling battle.

The July recapture of Mosul, a city that IS seized more than three years before, was the biggest defeat the jihadists had been dealt since the war to push them back began.

Iraqi forces often release figures for IS fighters they say they have killed, but are extremely reticent about their own losses.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other support have since regained most of the territory they lost.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims gathered in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala on Sunday for ceremonies marking the seventh-century killing of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

Some 25,000 members of the security forces were deployed to protect the pilgrims, who in the past have faced attacks from Sunni extremists including the Islamic State group.

This year's ceremonies were marked by the chanting of slogans against Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, like "Barzani you are the sponsor of dividing the country" and "Don't believe we will ever give you Kirkuk".

Barzani's autonomous region in northern Iraq held a referendum on September 25 that saw voters overwhelmingly back independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. The vote was also held in disputed areas like the city of Kirkuk.

Hamed al-Obays, one of the organisers of the procession, said the chants opposed the "separatist conspiracy in northern Iraq".

Pilgrims weep and beat their chests in mourning during the ceremonies, some using swords that leave blood dripping down their robes.

The annual Ashura commemorations mark the killing of Imam Hussein by the forces of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD -- a formative event in Shiite Islam.

Imam Hussein's death was part of a dispute over who should succeed the Prophet Mohammed, which eventually developed into a bitter schism between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.

Many Shiite worshippers travel from neighbouring Iran and other countries each year to visit Imam Hussein's shrine in Karbala, which lies about 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad.

Millions of others across the Shiite world, from Lebanon to south Asia, hold processions in their home towns, performing a variety of rituals, many involving flagellation.

Iraq says defeats IS infiltration near Ramadi
Ramadi, Iraq (AFP) Sept 27, 2017
Islamic State group fighters seized areas around Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on Wednesday in an apparent attempt at a diversion from offensives on its last Iraqi footholds but were swiftly defeated, security sources said. The jihadist infiltrators briefly occupied three areas near the city, which is the capital of mainly Sunni Arab Anbar province, long a bastion of insurgency, the sources said. ... read more

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Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

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