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Support for Iraq should respect sovereignty: FM
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 01, 2014

Baghdad car bombs kill 13: police
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 30, 2014 - Three car bombs blasts killed at least 13 people and wounded 41 in Shiite-dominated neighbourhoods of the Iraqi capital Baghdad Tuesday, police and hospital sources said.

Twin car bombs rocked the Horreyya district in northwest Baghdad late Tuesday, killing at least 11 and wounding 32, a police colonel said. A hospital official confirmed the toll.

Another car bomb in Zafaraniya, in southeast Baghdad, killed two and wounded nine others, the same sources said.

Australian military jets to support Iraq strikes: PM
Sydney (AFP) Oct 01, 2014 - Australian military jets are to join in the US-led air war against the Islamic State group in Iraq, conducting refuelling and support missions, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday.

Australia deployed some 600 troops and several aircraft to the United Arab Emirates in mid-September as it geared up to join the US-led international coalition.

"We have not yet made a final decision to commit our forces to combat but Australian aircraft from today will start flying over Iraq in support of allied operations," Abbott told parliament.

"Ours are support operations, not strike missions. Australian air strikes await final clearances from the Iraqi government and a further decision by our own."

The RAAF's E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and a refuelling aircraft "will operate over Iraq in support of US and other coalition aircraft", Abbott added.

The Prime Minister said the Islamic State group was an "apocalyptic death cult" that had "declared war on the world and it must be resisted at home and abroad".

"Because ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has global ambitions, our international security and our national security are indivisible," Abbott said.

"Our objective is to support governments that neither commit genocide against their own people nor permit terrorism against ours."

Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten said his party supported the Australian military's involvement in Iraq, but not the deployment of combat units on the ground.

Shorten added that any military involvement "should be confined to Iraq".

Abbott said previously that the UAE deployment was focused on Iraq and not Syria, adding that Australia does not recognise the Syrian government.

He noted at a press conference earlier Wednesday that "the legalities of operating in Syria are quite different from the legalities of operating in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government".

"ISIL is... the same whether it's in Syria or Iraq, but the legalities are different and legalities matter to a country such as Australia."

US warplanes have been launching multiple strikes against IS jihadists in both Syria and Iraq, while Britain carried out its first air raids against the IS group in Iraq on Tuesday.

Australia has already joined the US in an international effort to transport weapons to Kurdish forces fighting IS extremists in northern Iraq. And it has conducted humanitarian air drops in besieged Iraqi towns.

Abbott has repeatedly said that the violence in Iraq was "reaching out" to Australia, and has warned that some 60 citizens are already fighting alongside jihadists in the conflict overseas.

Iraq's foreign minister said Wednesday that foreign assistance in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group should respect the country's sovereignty.

He hailed the role played by Iran, which Kurdish officials said has been actively taking part in the fighting and still maintains a force on Iraqi territory.

"We cannot accept that Iraq is becoming a land of conflict but we have to solve this problem in a way that preserves Iraqi sovereignty," Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a news conference.

When asked about a comment in which the commander of Iran's ground forces last week vowed to protect his own border "deep into Iraqi territory" if necessary, Jaafari said Iranian support was welcome.

"Iran has provided assistance to Iraq, as have some other countries. This is not a secret and we have to thank them for it," he said.

Iran has been a close ally of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, and Jaafari spent a whole decade in exile there when Baghdad was under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Critics have questioned the legal basis and motives for Iran's participation in the government's military efforts against the jihadists, who have conquered swathes of Iraq since June.

Iranian troops have been posted on the Iraqi side of the border in the south of Kurdistan while Tehran is also reported to play a key role in training and running some of Iraq's Shiite militias.

Kurdish officials said there were about 100 Iranian troops posted in the Khanaqin area, some 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

- Mortar experts -

"The centre of Khanaqin is only five kilometres away from Iran, it's as if it was in Iran," said General Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa, the Kurdistan Democratic Party's local leader.

"There are oil wells there that are very important and Iran has to defend itself, that's why they have sent a military unit, the Sabai Pasdaran Khorasan," he told AFP.

"In the Khanaqin region, the Sabai Pasdaran Khorasan, the Iraqi forces and the peshmerga fought together in the battle for Jalawla," he said.

Jalawla, which has been one of the main flashpoints in Iraq since the Islamic State group launched a devastating offensive in Iraq four months ago, lies just 30 kilometres from the border.

Mustafa said 600 Iranian troops moved across the border in June and July.

"There are only 100 of them left to keep an eye on the situation, most of them mortar specialists," the general said.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the other historical party in the autonomous region, has had close ties with Iran over the years.

Iran "plays a very important role in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. If Iran is active in the Iraqi conflict, it will be easier to solve," Kurdish peshmerga forces spokesman Halgord Hekmat said.

"The Iranians were in Amerli," he said of a Turkmen Shiite town that the jihadists besieged for more than two months.

A joint push also involving the peshmerga, federal forces and Shiite militias broke the siege in late August, one of the biggest victories for Baghdad since the June debacle.

Hekmat said Iranian forces had also been deployed in Makhmur, about 60 kilometres southeast of Arbil, "to provide assistance, just in case".


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Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

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